This year I was even more ambitious than normal. I'm going to have to ride the Andes, I thought. I better be able to handle the hills around my house. The problem with some of the roads in the west hills is that they're steeper than just about any of the world's highway's. The easiest route up into the hills from our house is to head up Johnson St. towards Pittock Mansion. The first mile or two were fairly mellow. I spun along and felt pretty good from up to 24th St. Then the road reared up. From there the gradient averages about 10% for the first half mile or so ( to put this in perspective, Alpe d'Huez, the legendary Tour de France switchback climb averages about 8%, with the steepest bits just above 10%). Needless to say, I didn't stay ambitious for very long. Immediately I went into self-bargaining mode, Okay, just make it to the next bend, then you can rest. Still operating without my lowest gears, even that didn't last long. Pretty soon it was, Okay, just make it to the next shady patch, then you can rest. I hate doing this, hate it. But sometimes all the strength you have won't get you more the a hundred feet or so. So you go until you can't go anymore, you stop, and then you do it again. I made it less than a mile, about 4 hundred feet up into the hills before I turned around and headed down. Another first day in the hills, another day of pain, another day of realizing it's never going to be easy.
Today I headed for a climb again, up the slopes of Mt. Tabor. It's wasn't easy, I still had to caterpillar up the steep bits. But it didn't hurt as bad as the first day. Beautiful day here too...
And stayed tuned, because shortly, I'll be started a new series of posts, looking at the various countries and regions we'll be riding though. Some teasers from the first post: Penguins, Butch Cassidy, a sailing Beagle, and some far-flung Welsh villages. Any idea where we're headed?