Monday (5/5/08) I rode up Strohm Hollow all the way to the top this time -1200 ft. climb, and rode down on Three Turn Road to Long Mountain Trail and back to the bottom, for a 7.3 mile ride, all in one hour. It was my full intention, after effecting an optimistic start at the bottom of the hill, to break all of my previous time records for the climb; but alas, I bonked within a quarter mile of the top, although I still made it up to the top top (2000 ft.) in 40 minutes. I’m really loving my not-so-new 29’er, and it makes the torture and agony of long climbs somehow fun -I don’t yet understand how. The bigger wheels and locked out suspension (I always want to write ‘fork’, but am not sure if it is the proper word to use in a Lefty situation) make aggressive climbing possible -as in shifting into a tall gear, standing, and lunging in and out of the handlebars. When I was young I was taught that such undisciplined riding was bad style, but of late I find myself, at times, secretly indulging in a little of this behavior when I’m alone and nearing the top of a climb. Also the bike’s extra speed and stability is phenomenal. Riding down dirt Three Turn Road, I maxxed at 39.4 mph, a number I could have only dreamed about on my 26. And I still wasn’t spun out. The tight curves and short visibility are what slowed me a little. I passed a car doing 38 on the shoulder.
The bike stayed in the garage the rest of the week until yesterday, Saturday. I had big plans to do the Michaux Maximus 2008 25 miler loop first thing in the morning, as the forecast called for sunny and clear weather until mid-afternoon -then showers. Well, I woke up to heavy rain, and it kept raining until 11am. Then I loaded up the bike and went to the parking lot at the top of the mountain, but it was still raining there. I sat in the pickup awhile, looked over the map, trying to get motivated. There were other bikers in the woods, in spite of the rain. I finally saddled up and started down the very wet trail, with quite damp spirits, too, I admit. It had rained nearly half an inch and was still drizzling down some miserably cold and wet drops of water. I let some air out of my tires because everything was so slippery. Any root, log, or rock had to be approached at a ninety degree angle to avoid slipping out. Downhill was a treacherous event, and one that I felt, after one particularly outstanding example of the impossibility of my bike tires to grip anything, should best be, under these circumstances, and, in this frame of mind -should be, in short, avoided. I made it to the far end of the first loop, 5 miles into the ride, and headed on around, but decided to shortcut a little and just call it quits when I got back to the parking lot. I got back after doing 10.3 miles. I kind of felt defeated because there were a lot of other bikers showing up and just starting out, but I left anyway. Well, about then, the skies cleared off and the sun came out real nice, but I went on home anyway, washed off the bike, and put on dry clothes. I did go for an 8 mile spin on the roads later, to try to tire myself a little after ingesting a Panera ceasar salad. So much for a lazy Saturday.