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post #774
bio: rich

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Mountains were made to be ridden up and then down

As a teen (not a teen wolf, but like, for real, a teen) I spent a large amount of time on my bike (I wanted to write “your sister”). There was this one route that I rode almost every day after school. It was a 20 mile ride up the mountain that I could see out my bedroom window (no, really, come look). This past weekend I found myself at home visiting family (including hilarious nephew and sassy niece) and there was this little voice inside that told me maybe I should rent a bike and maybe I should attempt that ride that I did all through high school. Sure, I recently rode my first century and my average weekend rides are around sixty miles - but that is all in NYC and it’s relatively flat and there isn’t a mountain in the way.
Basically I wanted to know if I could still do this route twenty years later.

View Route up Sunset Mountain in a larger map
The Answer
Of course I could do it. It’s only 20 miles! Duh! I did it twice.
But, I will say that, for whatever reason, I was exhausted by the first 2-3 miles. Exhausted to the point that I pulled over and drank some water and looked longingly at a large rock because I thought it would make comfortable place to sit. I think it had to do with riding a bike that had different geometry and gearing and the fact that I was in my hometown and probably trying to show off to no one in particular.

I went to my high school reunion a few years back and doing this ride was almost like a mini-reunion. It was nuts that after 20 years I still had a very detailed memory of each hill and curve. It was also interesting to see how much had changed. Back in the “day”, the road was fairly undeveloped and quiet... and it still kind of is except for the random multi-million mountain getaway perched on a cliff.

Many memories.
There’s the place where I made out with a girl.
There’s the place where I made out with my wife.
There’s city limits signed that we’d race to.
There's the sign for the odd sounding church that we never saw.
There’s the road where we had that confrontation with the guy in the Porsche.
There’s the place where we often took a break and one time some rednecks tried to run us over.
There’s the hill that I rode with my friend Bryan’s father.
There’s the park where we played Frisbee.
There’s the Parkway that was the usual turnaround spot.
There’s the flat part where I hit 40mph for the first time.

Hilly. Not So Hilly.

I am not good with distance. I can tell you about far a mile is, but anything more or less than that, I don’t seem to have a good sense for. I was using the clever MapMyRide website to, um, map my ride, and they feature a clever elevation feature.

On my ride, the lowest elevation is 2,133 feet. The highest is 3,530. That’s about 1,400 feet climbed in ten miles. This is all nice and good, but I didn’t really have a sense if this was that high or not. Here’s the height of other things.

Bear Mountain (outside of NYC): 1,284
CN Tower in Toronto: 1,800
Mt. Mitchel: 6,684
(Mt. Mitchel is right up the road from the turnaround point)
Mt. Ranier: 14,000
Mt. Everest: 29,000

I still don’t have a good sense of how high these things are (except that Bear Mountain is not very high).


Nice Bike

I bought my first bike at Liberty Bikes. This would have been in 1982 I think. They were located on Liberty Street in Asheville but have since moved across town to bigger and better digs. They rent bikes. I rented a fairly nice Trek (oh, I forget the model - it’s on their site) and it was fast. Maybe it was the tires or maybe something about the geometry of the frame (different than mine) or something that maybe just gave me more confidence... but I flew down the mountain. I’d wager that it was probably one of the fastest descents I have ever done. I smiled a lot.

RIP Laurent
Sadly, I just (very late) found out that Laurent Fignon passed away a few months ago. He is still immortalized in my childhood room. My parents really need to redecorate.


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