“You fool! What do you think of yourself? Who gave you the right to punish me like this?” Every sinew in the body began to scream at me.
“It’s not that bad. It not as hard as it looks. You can do this. Just keep going.” I tried to sound convincing. It didn’t seem to work. The long road rising towards the heavens seemed more real to it than my meek attempts at motivation.
“Look at them coasting downhill. I know you won’t allow me even that luxury even after I go through all this pain taking you top of the mountain. You and your stupid fixed gear fetish rot in hell” It began to curse me showing the riders coasting down the hill from the opposite direction.
“Hey, I didn’t know that there is going to be this big a climb on this ride. I didn’t check the elevation profile of the route. Otherwise, I would have found an excuse to chicken out.” I tried defending myself.
Seeing no point in chiding me any more, it seemed to take pity on me. It began to move after I bribed it with numerous energy bars and a healthy supply of water. It fought the gradient and made slow progress. The road twisted, turned and rose. It was a relentless climb up the Bethel Mountain.
The misty morning offered a beautiful setting for the last long practice ride before the Prouty 100miler on July 10th. Kim, Jan, Donna and I set out at a decent pace and made steady progress.
This part of the country never stops amazing me with its beauty. There always seem to be a brook flowing musically by the road. The green mountain terrain on either side of the road is as idyllic as ever. There is always a herd of cows and a stable of horses on almost every route we take. We even came across a beautiful waterfall right next to the road on this ride.
I regretted not checking the elevation profile of the route in advance when Kim coolly told that the Bethel Mountain climb that comes around the halfway point in the ride is comparable to Smuggler’s Notch that I did last month. ‘Comparable to Smug’s Notch’, didn’t sound too encouraging for me. After Smuggler’s Notch climb, I promised my body that I will not put it through such pain again by asking it to take on such a climb on the fixed gear bike. I unwittingly broke that promise.
As we began the climb up the bethel mountain, there were many riders coming coasting from the opposite direction. “Still ways to go”, came in the reply when I asked how much more climb is there. It was not very encouraging.
After what seemed to be a long climb, I reached the waiting group who were chatting with a resident on the route. I thought we were done with the climb. “You’ve covered just one sixth of the climb”, came the reply when enquired about what’s ahead. One sixth!!? I regretted asking the question as my heart sank.
Although it didn’t make it any easier, I was told that this was the easier side of the hill. I didn’t know whether to feel relieved that I was not climbing from the difficult side or be frightened at the prospect of facing the downhill that is steeper and longer.
After what seemed to be an eternity, we reached the top of the hill and rested for a while before heading down on the exhilarating downhill ride. There were scores of riders riding up this side of the hill and almost every face mirrored what should have been the expression on my face while I was climbing. An expression that reeked of pain.
It was my turn to answer when a few riders enquired about how much more to go. I choose to lie a bit and make them happy. “You are almost there. Good job. Keep going. Its just a mile or so to go.”
We flew down the downhill that never seemed to end. It was almost the first time that a downhill felt too long. I had my hands on the brakes almost all the time controlling the speed as the legs continued to spin away. It lasted almost 8 miles. I think it was a good mile or two more than the climb. I was relieved it was over.
We rode down a bit of a flat stretch into Randolph and stopped for lunch. After a quick snack of subs and chocolate milk at Randolph’s Village Pizza, we headed home to complete the last 30 odd miles. It was all of 91.24 miles by the time we were done. We proudly posed for post ride photos and called it a day satisfied.
Stats: 146.78km (91.24miles)
Avg: 21.3kmph (13.2mph)
Bulldog’s century count: 5