Today’s post isn’t about me. At least, not very much. Today’s post is about The Hammer, and the day she had yesterday.
Because it was a pretty full day.
Event 1: Hiking a Mountain
The day started with a hike to the top of “Y” Mountain — a seven-mile hike with 3000 feet of climbing she’s done as a long-standing tradition each month with her eighty-year-old dad.
She texted me — as I sat at my desk, working — this from the top of the mountain:
So yeah, I was a little bit jealous of how her day started.
Event 2: Lunch With The Folks
After the hike, she drove her dad back to his home and had lunch with her mom and dad. After a quick shower there, she then drove over to a clinic, where she had an appoointment to have a basal cell carcinoma removed.
It was at that point that I stopped being jealous of how her day was going.
Event 3: Surgery
The way they remove the carcinoma is to cut out what they think is all of it, then have you sit around while the pathology lab verifies that they’ve got everything out. If so, they sew you up. If not, they cut more out and repeat.
The Hammer was lucky (or maybe it’s nicer to say that the doctor is skilled); they got everything on the first pass. I arrived at the clinic right as the doctor was sewing her up.
I did my absolute best to not look squeamish, but from the distance I was sitting I couldn’t see the thread for the stitches, and so it would look — from time to time — as if the side of her face was, of its own accord, suddenly stretching out into thin air.
That weirded me out. Meanwhile, the whole time, The Hammer chatted and joked.
They bandaged her up pretty thoroughly, but you couldn’t really see anything, thanks to a strategically concealing hairdo.
This photo is actually from today, with a bandaid in place instead of the massive pile of gauze and tape originally on her face. But you still get the idea.
Event 4: Store
I had come to the clinic to offer support and with the expectation that The Hammer would be in no shape to drive home, much less do anything else.
But as we headed home, The Hammer said, “This would be a good time for us to take care of some grocery shopping.”
So we did.
Event 5: House Cleaning
We then got home, and I encouraged The Hammer to go lay down and rest for a while, since that’s totally what I would have done. In fact, I would still be laying down right now.
The Hammer, however, said that this was her housecleaning day, and went to work on that while I headed into the basement to do my day job.
Event 6: The Ride
We made dinner together (Teriyaki salmon with dirty saffron rice and peas). The IT guy joined us, because after dinner — when the day had cooled down — we were planning on going on a mountain bike ride.
“We’re just going to take it easy today, right?” I asked, thinking about the fact that The Hammer had already had one good workout that day, plus we had gone on a Strava QOM hunt for her the day before, netting her both a QOM / PR on the Hog Hollow climb (weirdly, no other woman has recorded a time on Hog Hollow; The Hammer has recorded dozens of times) and a QOM for the short-but-intense Brock’s uphill sprint.
Plus, of course, the day before that she had done a hard 96-mile road ride.
And in short, an easy ride seemed like the only sensible thing to do.
So — naturally — I was not at all surprised to see her sitting at the computer before we went. “I want to go after the Canyon Hollow – Brock’s climb.”
Have I mentioned that I have created a monster?
We started out, going relatively easy up Hog Hollow. Right from the beginning, though, The Hammer noted that her legs were tired.
“Gee, what a surprise,” I quipped. “I wonder why that could be.”
We then went down Rush, which is ordinarily one of my very favorite descents. But it’s a technical descent and not great to do as the sun gets low. Specifically, you will occasionally find yourself pretty high in the air before you even realize you just went off a jump.
I went on ahead, crashing one time, but managing to get myself and my bike together before anyone caught me.
As The Hammer and The IT Guy rolled down to the bottom of Rush, The Hammer remarked, “Blake critiqued my descending technique nonstop, the whole way down.”
You’d have to know The IT Guy a little to understand that this was likely not even a tiny bit of an exaggeration. I thought to myself, “Really, this was not the day for that.” But the Hammer / IT Guy dynamic is as unique as any mother / son relationship; I said nothing.
It was time for the main event: the two-mile, 696-foot climb from the bottom of Canyon Hollow to the Peak View trailhead.
The Hammer’s daily QOM Hunt was upon us.
Event 7: The Big Climb
The Canyon Hollow – Brock’s climb is two miles of really fantastic singletrack, climbing at a moderate 6.7% average grade (696 feet total of climbing). It’s one of my favorite ways to get to the Peak View trailhead in Corner Canyon, because it’s a mellower climb than Clark’s. Here’s what the elevation profile of this climb looks like:
Very even and steady. Get into your climbing groove and stay there. That said, when you climb at your limit, there’s no such thing as an easy climb.
My job during The Hammer’s QOM attempt was to stay about fifty feet or so ahead of her, where I served dual purposes:
- Be a rabbit she can chase
- Clear the path of slower riders by saying in a cheerful, loud voice as I approached them, “How’s it going?” This technique results in an almost 100% pull-over rate without me ever having to ask people to pull over to let us by.
I took on my job with relish, but The Hammer — whose job was to go as fast up the climb as she possibly could. And that “as fast as she possibly could” should ideally work out to be in under 16:45, the current QOM’s (Erika, not Erica) time — was not having fun.
Before we got even a third of the way up, she said to me, “I’m just pooped.”
“Just ride your best, don’t worry about whether you get the QOM today,” I said.
We came across Dug, who was riding the other direction with his son. Dug, immediately sensing what was going on, yelled at the top of his lungs, “Everyone clear the trail, she’s on a Strava!”
Dug’s a clown.
I plugged away, but could tell from the way she kept dropping back that The Hammer was tired. I checked my clock. It was going to be close.
Then she took a spill. She got up quickly and continued, but in my mind it was over; she wasn’t quite going to make it.
I pulled across the finish line, and then fifteen seconds later The Hammer came across, then immediately stopped and put her head on her handlebars.
“You’ve just done too much today,” I said.
“Don’t make excuses for me,” The Hammer replied, and started down Hog Hollow.
Completely exhausted, she went to bed as soon as she got home.
We didn’t even bother uploading the data from her GPS to Strava.
The Hammer woke at 5:30 this morning, got ready for work as usual as I made her lunch (egg whites and avocados, of course). She was out the door by 6:15.
Then, after she left, I thought, “Well, I guess I’ll see how close she got,” and went to the garage to get The Hammer’s GPS.
She had done it. By fifteen seconds. Even after everything else — big hike, surgery, groceries, cleaning the house — she had still gotten her QOM fix.
And that is why she is The Hammer.