This time I don’t feel like puking

Me on Strava on Monday planning the Thursday night ride: Ooh, I like this road. And this one. And this is a fun descent. Ooh, ooh, I’d like to ride over here too. Okay, that’s 30ish miles. Publish the ride invite on Facebook. 

Me on Strava reviewing the course Thursday afternoon : 3400 feet of climbing? What the fuck was I thinking?

I ride with some strong cyclists. Jeff and Jay, and tonight Joe, who I used to be stronger than. He got good. It sucks and it’s fun. It’s aspirational. Thursday night rides are B-pace for them. For me, they’re leg-day at the gym; the hardest thing I do all week. I can turn myself inside out on a climb that they ride at a conversational pace, and they still have time for a cigarette at the top while waiting for me. I think they put up with me because I’m funny.

This Thursday had something like seven gnarly climbs. I PRed two early ones. On the third to last, my legs were shot. But the game is mental as much as physical.

Drink some Gatorade. Sugar makes you feel good. Sugar is magic. Now ride your fucking bike. Just ride it. Okay, their blinkies aren’t actually getting smaller; they’re riding away from you. Let them go. Like you have a choice. There’s Ben’s barn. Remember when he had the pipe staging set up almost in the road? Yeah, that was cool. Not Ben’s barn, really. Calder’s barn. Ben was just building it. There’s the turn. Alright, done with that. More Gatorade. More magic. Bear Burrow Road now. What is it? Thirty percent? Maybe. You’ve ridden this sitting down. Ain’t happening tonight. You can walk if you want. It’s steep as shit now. Fuck walking. Pedal. Stand. Stand on the pedals. Up, down, up, down. Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast. Okay, it’s not fast, but it’s forward. Up, down. There’s the street sign. Done. One more. One more slug of magic first. Booth Road. Easy for 3/4 of a mile, brutal for a quarter. Don’t even think about walking. Don’t even think about sitting. Out of the saddle. Up, down, up, down. Fuck, the legs hurt. So what? You’re not ready to puke. No, but the quads are on fire. That’s not important. It’s just pain. It’s not nausea. You’re around the switchback. It’s easier now. Sit, pedal. There’s the top. Done. Fucking done. 

That’s where I planned to turn home. The route continued a few miles down to the Market and toward everyone else’s way home, but for me that would have just added miles and climb I’d already ridden to get there. Good words were said, we parted, and I rode down Dorothy Diebold Lane alone. My belly was hollow but I felt oddly strong spinning up the slight grade.

On Lower County, there was a pug dog in the road. I said, “Hey there.” It turned. Not a pug dog. A small bobcat that darted over the stone wall ten feet away from me and was gone. Turning down Old Roxbury, I slid back off the saddle, relaxed my shoulders, and followed what I remembered as Jeff’s line down the switchbacks. It was fast, and that speed got me halfway up the short steep past the beaver dam, and then I was on Bacon Road. Bringing home the bacon. Bacon bringing me home. Two easy miles to go.

The sky was clear and the air was cooling, but the 3/4 moon was bright enough that I turned off my headlight on Transylvania and rode home by its light.



About swampyankeecyclist

I'm Andy Engel, just a middle-aged, middle-class guy from Roxbury, Connecticut. I've been married to my best friend since 1988, and we have two grown sons. I like riding bikes, and my biggest accomplishment is the 180K D2R2. I own 5 bikes but my go-to rides are a 2016 GT Grade gravel and commuter bike and a 2016 Specialized 650b hardtail mountain bike. Additionally, I have a 2000-something carbon-fiber Orbea road bike, a 1990-something Specialized Sirrus that's my old dirt and commuter bike and which now serves as a spare and a trainer bike, and a 1985 Ross Mount Hood MTB. All but the 650b have Brooks saddles. I work from home now, but used to commute 32 miles round trip to work by bike year round. I was a carpenter and still love building things, but regular paychecks, insurance, and vacation time lured me into journalism. I've written a couple of books on carpentry, and I've been an editor at Fine Homebuilding, Fine Woodworking, and Professional Deck Builder magazines. Currently, I manage construction events at the JLC Live and Remodeling Show trade shows. Additionally, my wife and I run Transylvania Guest House, an Airbnb. Find us on Instagram. Come stay with us and I'll show you some great cycling.
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2 Responses to This time I don’t feel like puking

  1. Mike Guertin says:

    The sign has three references to ‘mountain’. A word we find on only one or two small hills here in RI. I know just the self-talking you go through when running on empty – and trying to keep up. Great description of the wondering mind.

  2. Pingback: Early Autumn Riding | swampyankeecyclist

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