Thursday, July 2, 2009

Now for something completely different

Just kidding, I hope. I think Tonya's done a very nice job setting the tone for our training blog, and I hope my inaugural post doesn't stray too far from that.

Two weekends ago we rode to church together for the first time. It's a roughly 19 mile ride round trip and among the hilliest we had done so far. I had ridden there alone three times previously and knew there were going to be some tough hills to tackle, but I also knew we had two different route options, one significantly less painful than the other and a good alternative to take home.

We were supposed to get going in time to make it to the church service at 10am but got a late start thanks to me taking a necessary potty break (heh!). Since I had some paperwork to drop off at the church office for our team benefit recital next weekend, the trip wasn't going to be a wasted one even if we missed the service.

It was a quiet ride as we made our way out of town, passing shopping centers and corporate office parks. The wind was picking up in the corn fields as we turned off New Design Road onto Elmer Derr, for the tougher of our two route options to get to church. Tonya remarked that she didn't think we'd ever done a ride where we weren't being buffeted by headwinds and crosswinds, but these seemed harsher than what we had experienced together in the past. Of course the wind drained away all our momentum as we hit the bottom of that first big hill.

Nothing but corn to stop the wind

I called out, "Go go Granny Gear," shifted onto my small ring and pedaled furiously at a whopping 5mph—might have been a little faster than that, but it didn't feel like it. Thankfully there was little traffic going in either direction while we were battling this hill, although another cyclist had passed us earlier, shortly after we turned onto Elmer Derr. I didn't want to think about how little effort it had probably taken him to get up this hill and how far ahead of us he was by then.

I got to the top and pulled off into a gravel driveway to wait for Tonya. What I didn't know at the time was that she hadn't known to switch onto her smaller chainring and was attempting to ride up that hill with half as much gear assistance as she could have had. I learned this later, after we went up a (tortuously long and) more gradual hill alongside Route 15 that I'd kind of forgotten to warn her about in advance. Between the two was a short, steep winding descent that I wish, in hindsight, I'd had the guts to go screaming down without riding my brakes to maintain my speed for that next gradual incline.

Paying the price for being timid on the descent

We had a short stretch left on Elmer Derr road before reaching the church with another short, steep slope to contend with right before we got there. I told Tonya I'd fallen there the first time I rode to the church when I stopped halfway up to catch my breath and toppled over attempting to clip back in while in a very low gear. I'm sure it didn't inspire much confidence in her, but she took the rest of Elmer Derr like a champ.

Tonya looking unimpressed with the hill I forgot to warn her about

We rolled up to the church's main entrance sweaty, smelly and gasping for breath in time for some friends and fellow congregants to arrive outside and not recognize us right away in helmets, sunglasses and jerseys. Tonya stayed outside to chat with them as they were leaving the church while I took care of my paperwork and caught the tail end of a meeting that had completely slipped my mind. Oops!

Our lovely church

The alternate route back, though not flat, was merciful in comparison and I'm happy we chose to go back that way. It took us through a high-traffic area where impatient and most likely confused drivers swarmed around us; we were both honked at and got separated crossing over Rt. 15. I foolishly hadn't checked to make sure Tonya was close behind me before getting onto the overpass and realized, only after navigating the worst of these congested streets and seeing her nowhere, that I was carrying her phone in my pocket and hadn't exactly told her which way I was taking us home. She got through the heavily trafficked area and we joined back up at an intersection, calmed ourselves down (I felt terrible for leaving her to navigate that mess by herself!) and continued onward to the Market Street Deli, where our order was handled with quickness and precision and we treated ourselves to delicious bagels for breakfast.


Next up, in a post all its own, our Mountaindale adventure from last weekend...


  1. I can't hardly wait to read about your interpretation of last weekend's hilly hell ride.

  2. It looks like a beautiful ride! I'll be following your progress.

    And also, those bagels. Drool. I may start training just for the carb intake.