Joel and I went out biking today around 4:30. We'd planned to head out to Edgewood Park, which is a good medium distance bike-ride away, with a few small hills but nothing too bad. It was supposed to be a good trip for a day like today when I'm feeling pretty tired and weak anyhow.
This route went along Brittan Ave. I have now marked this route on my map with a big black skull and cross-bones. It didn't start out too bad. Then there was a medium-size hill. By this time I was hurting a bit anyway and wasn't sure if I could make it up more than one of these. "I'll take this one," I said to Joel, "but if there's many more, I think I'll have to turn back."
We made it up and down the hill and it wasn't too bad for a while. Then we found ourselves at the bottom of a big hill that curved and peaked off to the left. Now I was really hurting, but I thought I could make it up, so I sighed and headed up. About half-way up I was hurting bad, even in lowest gear, so I hopped off the bike and walked a ways.
As we came around the curve, we saw it. The peak was no peak. In fact, it was more like the foothill to a mountain. The hill went up and up and UP. It was enormous. There was no possible way we could bike up it in the condition we were both in by this point. On the other hand, we couldn't bring ourselves to go back after all the way we'd already come, so we both walked—climbed?—the rest of the hill on foot. The backs of my ankles started hurting even walking due to the steep slope.
Eventually we reached the top. The way down the hill looked similar to the way up. We confidently jumped back onto our bikes as we coasted by a road sign labeled "STEEP SLOPE - DOWNSHIFT AND APPLY BRAKE". I ignored it for a second as meant for cars, and then as I gathered speed I hit the rear brakes, hard. It didn't make much difference. I was still gaining speed at a scary rate and the road was so steep that I was actually worried about flipping head over heels. Joel remarked later that his bike computer said he was going 19 mph with his rear brakes full on. I got off the bike and walked down until the slope flattened out a little.
We coasted all the rest of the way home. Well, not really, but the hills along the way were distinctly underwhelming, even in our pretty beaten-up state.
Joel and I have decided that we're going to go back some time in a while. We're going to train by going up Page Mill as far as we can. When we can make it up to Skyline Road without much trouble, it will be time to try Brittan Road again.
Challenge the mountain!