Yesterday — New Year’s Day — a dozen or so of us celebrated our lack of hangovers by going on a little mountain bike ride.
And by “little,” I mean a 4.3 mile trail.
With 1700 feet of elevation gain.
On semi-packed snow.
On — for many of us — singlespeeds.
I’m happy to report that I had a great time, and that I felt like I was going to throw up for most of the climb.
As any accountant will tell you, nothing is as exciting as a good chart. So, using my upload from this ride to MotionBased (click here to get more detailed information on this ride), take a gander at what the distance to elevation profile looks like:
That’s kind of steepish, isn’t it? And so what did my heart rate look like during this ride? This:
Yeah, I spent an hour in the 170s.
With That Kind of Intensity, You Can Bet I Was First
I’m quite proud of the sustained effort I made pedaling through soft snow on a singlespeed mountain bike for 4.3 miles. So, as you could imagine, I was the first person to the top of the hill.
Or, it’s possible that I was one of the very last. As it turns out, that kind of effort doesn’t pay all that great of dividends when you’re thirty pounds over racing weight.
Still, to my pleasure, I didn’t get off the bike and push at all until the final third of a mile, where the road stops being merely steep and becomes ridiculous. I walked most of that (that’s where you see the dip in my heart rate in the chart above).
Pleased to get to the top, I asked frequent commenter Sans Auto — whom I briefly chatted with during the climb for the first tenth of a mile before he got bored and rode away — how he did. “You were first, right?”
“Well, who was faster than you?”
“Everyone but you.”
Thanks, Sans Auto. Please enjoy your demerit, which I hereby now issue to you.
Rest at the Top
Even when it’s freezing cold (and it was), a full-tilt ride on an intense climb warms you up. So I was plenty sweaty at the top. This sweat quickly evaporated and formed a nice dew – then ice – on my forehead, which you can kind of see here (note how nice the pictures from my new combo camcorder/camera turned out):
Within a couple tenths of a second, that sweat/steam/condensation all turns your carefully chosen wicking layers into the clammiest, coldest, teeth-chatteringest ensemble in the world.
And yet, we posed for a group photo. Gotta document the madness, right?
The Real Reason We’re Here
Of course, all that riding up means we got to now slalom our way down a steep, slick, snowy mountain road with dozens of switchbacks.
I got everyone to wait for a moment while I rode down to the first turn, so I could film the wacky action.
OK, maybe I should have put the word “wacky” in quotes. Everyone was being kind of timid.
I’m serious. I was an aggressive nutball downhilling on the snow. I was faster than anyone, and that’s a first. I was passing people left and right, my butt hanging over the rear tire and my fingers only in the general vicinity of the brake levers.
It was glorious.
Kenny Picks Up a Souvenir
It was about the time that I caught up with Kenny, in fact, that he turfed it. Turfed it real good. I pulled up and asked him if he was OK and he said, “I popped a finger out of its socket.”
You know, I didn’t even know fingers have sockets. Do fingers have sockets?
Anyway, Kenny’s finger was sticking up at a freaky angle. He gave it a tug and it went back to where it belongs, mostly. And that was the last time during the ride Kenny mentioned it (if it had happened to me, I would have made it the central event of the whole ride, always finding a way to bring the conversation back to my royally screwed-up finger).
I asked Kenny to send me a picture of how that finger’s doing today. Here’s what it looks like:
I Do Some Acrobatics
Elated in my newfound ability to fly on the downhill, I caught and passed Rick Maddox, which I have never ever done before.
Seriously, not even once.
Maybe that was the problem.
Right about the time Rick could get a good view of my back, I got stuck in a rut, hit a bump, nearly corrected, hit another bump, and flew over the front of my bike.
Rick assures me that I was screaming before I ever hit the ground.
The nice thing about a crash in the snow is it (unless you bend a finger back or some fool thing) softens your fall. So, in spite of the endo flip I had just executed at speed, landing on my back, all I did was get the wind knocked out of me.
You know, getting the wind knocked out of you is a scary feeling. You can’t breathe. And the part of you that draws clear lines between good and bad thinks not breathing is really, really bad. So it sends a jolt of panic into your skull.
Then the rational part of you tries to shut it down. “No, this has happened before. You’ll be OK in a moment.”
“You’ll be dead from not being able to breathe in a moment,” the not-so-rational part of you retorts, and makes you flop around like a fish, croaking out, “I…can’t…breathe!”
It was while I was doing this that everyone caught up to me and stopped to watch the show.
Sure enough, I was able to breathe again in a moment, at which point I became acutely aware of how funny I looked. I had a choice: I could try to rescue my dignity, or I could take things a little further.
“This was Rick’s fault!” I yelled.
“Wha?” replied Rick.
“Rick threw an elbow as I passed him! He forced me off the road and kidney punched me!”
“I had nothing to do with it,” said Rick, the very voice of reason.
“You did too! You forced me off my bike and then punched me in the nose, kicked me in the solar plexus, and tweaked my ear!
And then I got up and we started riding again.
Cold cold cold cold cold
Ironically, as you leave the snow in the final mile of the climb and hit the dry pavement, you get much, much colder. This is because you can start going road speeds again. Instead of tooling downhill at 18mph, you’re up to 35mph, creating a windchill that is technically a little bit colder than absolute zero.
This was, in short, the best New Year’s Day I have ever had.