So yesterday morning, I decided to give The Loop another shot, as previously discussed in my Life Lessons From The Road post. If you read it, then you know this is a 12.5-ish mile loop heading out into the boonies from my neighborhood, which was full of exciting experiences last time I road it. Yesterday’s ride had some moments worth mentioning as well.
First off, as I headed out, I should have perhaps been warned by the ‘tooley fog’ (actually spelled tule fog) that was wafting across the fields of North Keizer as I started my ride. Turns out it tule fog is actually a California thing, so I guess it wasn’t a tule fog, so to speak, but you always hear how someone ‘headed out into a tule fog, and that was the last we saw of them,’ so it made me wonder if something momentus was ahead in the ride.
Ok, that’s not really a tule fog, just a little light mist over some mud. Well, anyway, by the time I got to the home of the CGS (chubby german shepard,) I was ready for our little game of I-can’t-really-catch-you-but-make-me-feel-good-anyway pick up the pace riding, but I think CGS must have known I was cruising to the smooth sounds of Kenny Loggins at that point because he just kind of gave me the Chubby Homey ‘sup’ nod, and didn’t really even budge. I thought maybe he was setting me up for NSCGS (not so chubby german shepard) but he was nowhere to be found, so I think we’ve perhaps reached an understanding. Neither of us really want to work that hard in our relationship.
Before long I had reached the point where two roads diverged, and being a man on just one bike, I could not travel them both. My heart must have forgotten the little episode last time because once again, it insisted that we give Ravena’s Hill another shot. Again, if you read the entry linked above, you know this is the magical hill that pulled my bike to a standstill position. I’ve taken a few photos for you, but they won’t really do it justice:
That’s the view from a couple hundred out…you can see the less steep road to the left, and Ravena calling like an evil temptress to the right. You lose it in the trees right away so you don’t get to see how steep, or long it is. Granted, it’s somewhere between 100 feet and 100 yards, but plenty daunting. So as I was saying, the old ticker said ‘lets give it a go again!’ while my legs and head were saying ‘you seem to have forgotten that we didn’t get very far last time.’ Ticker replied with ‘yes, but remember that we didn’t quite have the whole gear shifter thing figured out, and BBGOaB (big brown geek on a bike) tried going up in about 8th gear, instead of 1st or 2nd gear.’ Well, the heart won out, and I downshifted almost as far as I could before giving it a go, cranked up “Harder to Breath” on the Shuffle and had at it. Little did I know how appropriate that song selection was going to be.
Somewhere near the 1/3 point, where the bike just stopped last time, I realized this was one of the hardest thing a guy who’s just barely getting back into shape should be doing. The low gear made it easy for me to spin my back tire on the still damp pavement, the contortions of my body digging and pulling, digging and pulling made the front end come up once or twice, worrying me that I might flip the bike over, and I was zig zagging all over the road looking for a less-steep place to climb. It’s amazing I didn’t just fall to the ground because not too much further past the 1/3 mark, my heart started beating like a distant jungle drum, cranked up to 11. I felt a fire in the back of my throat from trying to suck in more air, and my head felt like it was going to pop and shoot off my neck like a balloon at a birthday party. At the 2/3 mark the head and legs were screaming ‘give it up big guy, this isn’t for you!’
Normally, I bail at this point. Probably because I knew I’d have to blog about it, I kept going, and without getting too dramatic about the inner fire, or the will to succeed, I made it to the top. I had to get off the bike and walk around for a minute, drinking and spitting out water, but I made it. The next couple miles of my ride were really unpleasant, and I didn’t get out of that funk until about the point I reached the BS Market (yes, we really have a BS Market on the course…but you can’t buy what the name implies there.) But from near the top, here is another shot…again, not really painting the picture of just how hard that climb was for me, but at least maybe you’ll get an idea – right at the crest, you’ll see just the top of the stop sign that’s hidden by the hill itself.
At this moment, I’m not sure that’s anything I want to experience again. The old ticker has become quite the litigator though, so he may make his case for why we should try the next time we approach it, but maybe the head and legs will talk some sense in to him. Thank you to all of those who stopped there with me at the stop sign and asked if I needed a call to the paramedics, it’s good to know there are still people who care.
That’s the bike, without me on it because I’m laying on the ground trying to catch my breath. When the lady at that house came over to ask me to move so she could back her Escalade out, I agreed on the condition that she take a picture of my bike for me. Whoo, tomorrow I’m driving the truck.
p.s. – I couldn’t come up with any kind of iconic photo today for the top-corner pic, but then low and behold…Ravena’s Ring.