Friday, May 11, 2012

Bitter Bite

When Ocean Man wrote about the grapefruit challenge I few weeks back I knew I wanted to come up with something similar. Whidbey Island is a fun ride but it’s farther from me than it is for Crash, and doesn’t have the same draw. It’s fun, I enjoy every ride there, but it’s more than a grapefruit for me. It’s more like baking bread, just takes that much more time and planning. Instead I spent some time thinking about what my grapefruit should be. My first thought was a ride I like to do through Echo Lake/Lost Lake area. But that ride was problematic in a similar way, it’s a big commitment and not something I have any compulsion to do every month. I thought about riding towards Lake Roesiger too, I like that ride even more but it’s farther still, too much to bite off as a grapefruit challenge. For me this grapefruit has fit perfectly into a bowl. It can’t be too big or I just won’t do it, but it can’t be so small and pathetic that it’s got no benefit one way or another. After thinking on it for a week or so I knew what it was to be: St. Andrew’s Blvd. It’s not very far away, and I can approach it from my house or on the way home from work. It’s not a big ride, really only the hill matters, anything else I do with it is just sugar sprinkled on top. Just six minutes of puckering my face, putting my head down and gutting it out.

And the payoff is huge. Once I know I can get through that single climb I don’t worry about too many other cycling challenges. You’ve got to be in decent shape physically to do the climb well but the payoff for me is largely mental. It’s like a ruler I can just hold up and gauge my current strength with.

I’m not sure when the last time I climbed St. Andy was, it’s been about a year. Maybe not since the last TdM even? Since deciding that was the goal in Mid-April I’ve been somewhat apprehensive about the first attempt. I was a little scared of it and didn’t know how well I would do. Anyways, after putting it off, I decided I would ride my bike home from work and veer off towards Muk on the way and yesterday would be my first grapefruit of 2012. I dove down toward Picnic Point so I’d have the full experience of rises and falls through WindAndTide too, might as well make an event of it. This grapefruit was sweeter than expected! I felt really great going up The Switchback, even had a couple clicks on my cassette in reserve there, at that point I knew I could get up St. Andy, but with how much finesse? That was the question. Now I tracked it on my smartphone but I didn’t pay attn and give me hard numbers. I think my record for the climb hovers somewhere right around 6 minutes. I don’t think I beat that but I didn’t feel the need to circle in the sidestreets or switchback across the double yellow either. It just felt like a good hard climb. Not much different from any other I’ve ridden lately. And the payoff is easy to name: Reassurance. I’m strong, I’m in a good place mentally and in a good place physically and it feels good to eat a grapefruit sometimes. I’ll see if I can’t even do this a lil more often than monthly now.

I stopped in to say hello to Ocean Man at the top. We chatted, talked about revelatory worldviews (AGAIN, sheesh). Then I took off. I flew down the goat loop, so much fun! I don’t think I’ve been down there in about a year either, weird. Took the boulevard home and just as I was arriving in N Evt I flatted. It was one of those GUNSHOT ones. The tube was toast but a quick change and I made it the rest of the way home. Maybe those are the allegorical grapefruit seeds? I dunno, probably just shit that happened I guess. That’s why my gps route stops about 4mi shy of my house though.

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