Another fall, another pedal over da mountain on my road bike. It's a little later in the month than I usually go. I thought I might miss it this year, but last night I primed myself up, and this morning was mostly cloudy with a slight breeze at 45 degrees, so I went for it.
I'm not going to lie. I almost didn't make it. The first two miles up that beast are so brutal. I kept thinking maybe I'll just go to the top and come back down this way. Or if I go down the other way, maybe I'll just take the lakeshore drive back. Maybe I should just turn around now because this is hell.
But I kept going. The word sisu danced through my head, and pushed me forward. Goodness gracious, was it horrible. But I did it. I finished the first 4 mile climb in 34 minutes, just like the last couple years. At least I'm not getting slower!
At the top I put my jacket back on and coasted down to the bottom of the west end. 17 minutes down and 38 minutes up. The latter was faster than last year, but I felt really strong on that climb, and I gave it some oomf. I tried to stay in my highest gear as much as I could. At the top I took some pictures for you.
West toward Eagle Harbor and Lake Superior
What's left of the leaves in the valley. Not bad!
Toward Lake Medora
Toward Lake Fanny Hooe
And just when I thought (though I know better) that I got to go down the mountain, I was faced with giant reminders of why it is not so down at all. I would be cruising so fast that I had to brake a little or die. I'd keep all my speed and pedal hard on the flat section to get me up the next hill. Then, wham! It would be so steep that I had to shift quickly from 27th gear to 2nd, or I'd tip over. Man, oh man. Three hills were that dramatic on the way down. I shook my head and smirked at the top of every one because I made it. I wish I could have recorded an example of that for you.
I only saw four vehicles during the whole ride, and they were all on the west side. Nobody was at the top either -- a first.
And now that I know I can still do it, I look forward to next year!