“There’s Pain in Them Hills”

photo by Rocky Mountain Profiles

Got to work early this morning, and then left early to climb Lefthand Canyon on my heavy Kona Splice, with fully loaded panniers to train for the 10-day Switzerland tour next month. 4 miles or so to Lee Hill, then a couple tough miles up and down to Lefthand Canyon, and then a steady 13-mile climb to Ward, the final 1.5 being a more-than-tough 11% grade that essentially taunts riders once they think the ride’s complete.

I had done Boulder to Lefthand Canyon to the hipper little locale of Jamestown a few times, but never the long ride all the way to Ward (which, as a town, isn’t a destination so much as a bragging right). It was cold at the top, and windy. 4,000 feet  of climbing will do that. Next time I’ll bring a sweatshirt. Glad I had sunglasses, even at dusk, because flying down the canyon at 30 mph invites way too many bugs to sneak into your eyes, teeth, nose, ears, whatever. And I hate bugs as much as I hate the Baltimore Ravens, or Moe.

A loved one told me recently, in response to my comment that cyclists have to be “a little crazy,” that “a little crazy is good.” The reality, for me, is that cycling lets me push myself farther than I knew I could go, physically and mentally; even emotionally, because of how intense my thoughts can get, alone in beautiful nowhere. Maybe I need to get a little crazier by the end of July, as the more-than-tough 11% grade at the end of the climb to Ward is about half as steep as the 20% grade hills we’ll face a few times in Switzerland.

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