Thursday, October 29, 2009

Baby Steps Part Deux...

This past Sunday I headed up to South Mountain for the monthly Silent Sunday event. Silent Sunday is a monthly event where no motorized vehicles are permitted in the park for an entire day. Normally I ride a couple of out and backs on San Juan Road which can be a very good workout, and depending on how I feel, I will sometimes give the Tower Road a shot. The Tower Road is a pretty challenging 6 mile climb up to the top of a hill where several antennas are mounted. It's also a hill that is not for the faint of heart. The best I have done is 4 miles up the road.

This past Sunday, I arrived in the parking lot and began to get my bike ready. A guy who parked next to me started making small talk with me and eventually we both left the parking lot riding side by side heading into the park. It turned out that my new friend Wendell was also a good friend of someone else I new, Darrell. Wendell asked me if I was riding the Tower Road, and I promptly replied, "Probably not this morning." Well, Wendell picked up the pace and left me by myself as I headed for my ride down San Juan Road. As I got close to the intersection to San Juan Road, there was Wendell, waiting for me to arrive. I stopped to chat a little more and then he spring it on me. He informed me that I was riding up the Tower Road. He also informed me that Darell was probably up the road somewhere, and we would probably run into him at some point. Well, what was I supposed to do? I mean, you can't just say no to a challenge, even if you know you might end up puking your guts out, or who knows, have a heart attack?

Well, off we went. The ride went pretty smoothly for the first 3 miles. That's when I needed to stop for a small break to catch my breath. That's also about the time that Darrell came flying down the hill. Darrell quickly stopped and road back to us. After a few minutes of small talk, Darrell said he would continue down and would then ride back up and would eventually catch up with us. Talk about demeaning! He actually said he was going all the way down and would catch up with us! Well, anyway, off we went. Darrell did catch back up with us and thankfully he went into coaching mode. Between Wendell and Darrell, they both drug me up the hill until the end was finally in sight.

The road has a pretty steep pitch just before the parking lot. I lost my momentum and had to stop. Wendell and Darrell went on and waited. And waited... It took me a few minutes, but I finally got the nerve to attempt to finish to the "summit". At one point, Darrell rode down and went into coaching mode again. He pointed out the large audience at the top and told me they were all waiting for me. Great! Now I have an audience. Well, now I can't stop anymore, unless of course I simply keel over and die right there. I gotta say, the last 100 yards was extremely difficult, but when I crested the hill and into the parking of at the top, all I could think of was finding a good place to heave!

Luckily I didn't. Wendell took a quick picture so I had proof and after a few minutes of enjoying the view, it was time to head down. I really liked the descent, but who wouldn't after that climb? I learned a lot about myself this past Sunday morning. First, I am really out of shape. Secondly, I am really out of shape. No, seriously, I am glad I made it, and I am glad that there are other cyclists who understand what it's like to be slow and out of shape. My two friends were patient with me and helped me up the mountain. They made sure I didn't feel like I was holding them back. They gave me hope that I too can get into better shape and one day climb to the top in 45 minutes or less like most of the other riders do. Most importantly, they made me finish. Had I been by myself, I would have given up around mile 4 just like I had been doing in the past. They encouraged me and held me to a higher standard than I would have. They reminded me of the power of commitment. Thanks guys!

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