You want to know a big clue that the ride you're about to do is going to suck? When the guy who brought you there looks at you and asks, "We're friends, right?" Today was that ride. I met up with Dirtbag Diesel, with whom I've ridden before when he introduced me to the joys of Pupukea. And I may have talked a little smack earlier in the week (see the comments), so I kind of brought today on myself.
The day started out nice enough. We met at Dole at 7:30am and down Pineapple Hill we went, cutting around Haleiwa to Dillingham Airport. Dillingham is where you've been if you've ever gone sky diving or glider riding on (above) the island. It's also where I ride my time trial five mile repeats. This would not be that. We turned off, put the bike through a gate, then around another gate, and stopped to prepare. At which point Sean told me all about the planned ascent and asked me the question I started this post with. His plan? Yeah, some things you have to see to understand.
This was the hardest thing I've ever done on the bike. I think I've said that a few times over the course of the last 15 months, but I'll be shocked if I say it again for a while. At least, until the next time we go up Long Road. It starts out ok, gets kind of steep for a few hundred yards, and then you black out. Seriously. It is about 1600ft of elevation over 3.5 miles. That is a lot of up in not much distance. When he told me at the bottom, "Yeah, the section between the second and third switchback- that's going to suck," he wasn't kidding. I was already huffing and puffing, hurting getting to the first one. But I wasn't going to stop. One- I've never stopped on a climb. Two- I concentrated on how strong this was making me for the Honu, how if I conquered this suffering I would fear no climb. Then I hit the second switchback, looked at the grade, and laughed. Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached insanity. Not only was it as steep (or steep-looking) as anything I've ever ridden on in any vehicle, it was covered in loose gravel, a result of the washout after rains. Which meant, as I soon learned, that if you get out of the saddle to stomp in a vain, futile effort to put some power down and your tires are on a loose spot (as the will inevitably be), you're going to spin. And that's about it. This happened to me twice before I tried again and wiped out. Crash boom, over and down. And I sat there for a few minutes catching my breath and wondering how exactly I was going to be able to get back on the bike, pedal, and get the other foot clipped in on this freaking grade. But I was not to be beaten. So I tried, got it, got going...and went down again. So I walked to the third switchback, pushing my bike and wondering if Sean would come back for me so we could stop this foolishness. 50% right. He did come back, and he cajoled me into continuing with lies like, "It gets easier!" and, "Over halfway!" For the record, we were, "400 meters from the summit," three times.
I went down one more time on the way up. This time not from slipping, but from lack of forward movement. You see, if you're balanced on two narrow wheels you need to be moving otherwise gravity, that jealous bitch, will grab you and show you who's boss. Sean pulled up behind me and gave me a short push so I had enough momentum to get going and clipped. He also showed me the trick to steep climbs, which is not to go straight up, but to cut side to side, making the ride slightly longer but making the angle of attack much easier to handle. He said something about the hypotenuse of a triangle, but I wasn't hearing much but the blood in my ears at that point. In fact, he talked, whistled, joked, coached, and encouraged me all the way up that last mile and a half. I gotta be honest, not sure I would have made it alone. Still, how annoying is it to be dying and have the other guy laughing about doing repeats?
As we neared the real summit, Diesel sprinted on ahead to the end, got off his bike, took out his phone, and snapped some photos of me finishing. Which is funny now and I can't wait to do it to some other sucker sometime.
|Here I come!|
|Some time later|
|Some more time later|
|"Look happy." (notice the grip on the gate)|
And now? Now I make noise every time I stand up from the couch. I also ate, the put on a Netflix of Top Gear, saw the first two segments, and then Supre Awesome Wife was standing over me asking when I fell asleep. Not sure, honey. Not sure.
Tomorrow will be a cruising run, slowly building mileage and strength.
And today? It was a good ride, if good can mean brutal beyond brutality but with the knowledge that next time will be better and suffering brings strength. Thanks, Sean.
|You can see all three parts of the road from here.|