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Daily Archives: July 21, 2013

Why I Love Cycling In The Mountains

Riding in the mountains of Tiger, Georgia with my wife yesterday…

A bit of history first: I fell in love with cycling in the mountains the very first time I tried it – within a mile I knew I was doing something vastly more enjoyable than flatland cycling, which I already loved. Once I actually figured out how to climb a mountain road, well it was all over but the shouting at that point.

For the longest time I just accepted this love for riding in the mountains without bothering to “put a face on it” or attempting to figure it out in other words. It’s not that I didn’t care about the exact reason or the ‘why’ of it, the way I saw it, some things are better left undefined. The mystery became part of the fun of it. After all, what kind of nut likes the climbing a mountain on a bike? I’m one of those nuts, go figure.

So back to today and I’m on a nice leisurely ride with my wife, hitting switchbacks just a little too fast for comfort but not so fast as to be all that dangerous, whipping my bike back and forth negotiating the downhill turns. I thought about my last two solo rides bombing down the bigger mountain passes, then climbing our mountain road the first three days of our trip down here. I thought about how little protection there is, a tiny saddle with a couple of millimeters of padding to keep my butt where it belongs, my pedals that act as a pseudo seatbelt. And then the 23 millimeter tires between my bike and the road…

I thought about my goal for tomorrow – it’s a huge goal but not for length, I’ve ridden 83 times farther at one time than I will tomorrow. 83 times! But when I roll passed the finish tomorrow, I’ll be just as happy as if I’d ridden 125 miles. One mountain climb. 1.5 miles total, 1.2 miles of climbing, at an average grade of 18%.

The full picture took a minute to develop… Riding in the mountains is – let’s see… The ride is as long as I want to make it. There are no lines (there never are at the start of the extra mile) and no waits. There’s no overpriced food at every corner, no cheap commercial kiddie crap to be bought… There’s just me and the road. The only thing between me and utter exhilaration is my desire to turn that crank one more time. The only thing between sheer satisfaction and sitting on the couch with my thumb up my butt is to strap on a pair of shoes, snap on a helmet and pumping up a couple of tires…

Cycling in the mountains is like riding my own, personal roller coaster.