Friday, December 30, 2011

Red To Black

12/30/2011 - Day 8 - The Festive 500 - 72 miles

I knew I was going to have to pay the price and I knew that the price would be high. There I was just cruising along at 27-28 mph and it felt like I was just lazily turning my feet in circles while I was attached to the pedals. It felt like I was in a dream. The road was level and I was heading straight north and there was no headwind. I could barely feel any air at all and it was like I was floating along exerting minimal effort while my bike sped along the level road. No more effort than sitting on a couch being fat and lazy. It was huge fun and it felt surreal.

Awesome. For now. I hadn't hit a single red light as I had just coasted for about five miles at 35 to 45 mph while dropping nearly 600 feet in elevation and I knew I was headed to the lowest spot in the valley. I had about five more miles of this magic tailwind on the now level road that was blowing just about as hard as I was riding fast before I had to turn straight west and pedal the ten more miles to the Great Salt Lake Marina. Five more miles of magic. Five more miles of level flight. Five more miles of perfection.

I was not looking forward to the cross wind when I turned left and headed for the Marina. On a windy day that 10 miles can feel like some of the longest 10 miles in the world. But it turned out better than expected. I passed about seven cyclists all heading the other way (to their cars) on the way to end their ride and then drive home and all of them had a grimace on their face as their bikes were blowing all over the road. Mine was too but I was still able to maintain a descent speed and cadence and was still feeling good and enjoying the ride.

Once I reached the barriers on the north side of the frontage road I had to fight hard to avoid the tumbleweeds. They had nowhere to go having been blown up against the barriers and were shooting out in the eddies of wind all over and up and down the road. Some of them got me or I got some of them and I hoped that there was nothing sharp or solid enough on these dead plants that would puncture my tires. I only brought one tube and didn't fancy changing it this far away from home out in this wind.

As I got closer to the marina I could hear the gunfire of the duck hunters. I knew they had to be enjoying this much warmer than normal weather just as much as me and I couldn't tell if there were just that many ducks or if they were just lousy shots. Oddly enough as I passed Saltair to make my way to the marina the wind was really dying down likely due to being diverted around the tip of the Oquirrh Mountains right where they dropped down into the Great Salt Lake. It got downright pleasant.

I took a little break at the marina and took some pictures. There was a sailboat out on the lake and it was peaceful watching it slowly sail around the shallow water. I had a chocolate chip granola bar and hung out for a few minutes enjoying the utter lack of wind that I found so surprising. I had ridden about 33 miles to get here and I knew that I had a few more than that to get back and I hoped it would seem shorter because I was going to take a route that I had never ridden portions of before. Just the same I knew that it would feel like it was all uphill and I knew that anytime I was riding south I would be pushing a super stiff headwind.

I left the calm and comfort of the Great Salt Lake Marina at 4209 feet above sea level and would eventually make my way to 4961 feet above sea level about 15 miles later. It doesn't sound too imposing but it felt like I was riding up stairs. As soon as I crested a hill busting through the headwind with every gear I had I would turn east and head downhill in the crosswind before turning south again shifting up the cogs and busting through the headwind as the road ratcheted up the grade again. It felt like hell. I wasn't dreaming any more. I was paying the price and it was high.

I pedaled up the hill in the wind to State Highway 201 and pedaled up the hill in the wind to Magna. I pedaled up the hill in the wind through Magna grateful that I didn't get run over. I pedaled up the hill in the wind through parts of West the crappy part of the Valley City. I pedaled up the hills in the wind past ATK and Praxair and the Lays Potato Chip factory. I pedaled up the hill in the wind past the water towers. I pedaled up the hill in the wind past the Usana Amphitheater and I pedaled up the hill in the wind past where Wind Ridge Golf Course used to be. My legs were hurting.

What the heck was I thinking with this new route? What was I thinking with this new way of getting home? What was I doing out here with maximum exposure and a mouth full of sand? My teeth were gritty and my lips and face were pasted with sand. The tumbleweeds here were coming at me at 25 mph bouncing crazily straight down the road right at me. Every motorist that passed me going up these hills had them stuck in their grills or scraping under their cars or trucks as they went past.

There's a reason why this side of the valley is famous for wind. There's a reason why that golf course was named Wind Ridge. It's because it's SUPER WINDY stupid. What was I thinking? The only thing that kept me going was that I had no other way to get back home and the memory of that magic ride for 10 miles earlier in the day when this same torturous wind was pushing me perfectly effortlessly down the road. But right now I was climbing the hills and pushing the wind and I was paying the price.

I eventually made it to where the road leveled out a bit. I still had to jump two cogs further up on the cassette than I normally ride just to push the wind enough to get back home. Once back on familiar ground I had to stop at Sonic and get a Super Sonic Cheeseburger. I was beat up and my legs were empty and I knew I needed some food or there wouldn't be much fuel there when I needed to call down to the engine room for the next 22 miles as I tried to get home before it got too dark. And I needed to pick the stickers from the tumbleweeds out of my socks and leg warmers.

I made it home in the dark after sunset. The moon was out. 72 miles for the round trip. I had a blast. I finally felt like I did something harder than actually finding the time to ride the miles for The Festive 500. Now I'm at 258 miles for the eight days. There is one day left and frankly the weather has been so super cooperative this year that actually finding the time to ride has been the most difficult part of doing this.

A big thank you to my super supportive wife. Tomorrow I need to ride 53 miles. My ride will be as flat as I can make it. Right now my legs are sore and my neck is stiff and my wrist hurts and I feel great. For the first time since this began I feel like I am on top of this thing. For the first time since I got my bike dirty on December 23rd I feel like I have pedaled from the red to the black.

9/22/2012 - Dream Small Ride #8 - Nebo Loop

I love the fall colors. They're gone now, but when they're here I love them. Dream Small Ride #8 will pedal through some of the most dramatic displays of God's glory in the fall that can be found on this planet. I'm going to ride the Nebo Loop. I will start and end again at the city park in Mona where it all starts next year with Dream Small Ride #1. I will reach 9400 feet above sea level.

I will climb 3332 feet over 12 miles to get up the hill. I will pedal a total of 5371 feet of elevation gain. I will stop at the Devil's Kitchen and have lunch with my family. I'm sure it will rain. I will fly down 5308 feet of the twistiest steepest descent in the state. This ride will be great. It will be glorious. When I am done with this 72 mile ride I will be done with my 8 Dream Small Rides that I promised myself I would ride in 2012.

I will have pedaled a total of 606 miles just on these Dream Small Rides. I will have climbed a total of 40,479 feet of elevation gain and descended a total of 41,452 feet. I am looking forward to both. I am looking forward to these Dream Small Rides. I'm looking forward to the pedaling the pictures the coasting the memories and the speed. I'm looking forward to sharing these rides with you. Here. I am looking forward to dreaming small. I am looking forward to pedaling from the red to the black.

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