With the Philadelphia International Championship behind us and le Tour de France on the horizon, I decided it was time to get out on the bike. Well it was that and the fact that when I went to my niece’s shower last weekend, I had to try on several outfits before I felt comfortable.
Other than “gardening”, I hadn’t had any real physical exercise since the beginning of May when the nuclear gig ended. Quite honestly, there is no excuse for the lack of exercise in my life. I’m unemployed, I’m living alone and all I have is time because, God knows, I’m not going to clean all day.
Be that as it may, last Monday morning, I got the bike out of the shed and started on my Trek (get it?). My route, which I decided on as I left my driveway, is a 7.6-mile course that I’ve traveled in the past. Oh it’s a good 3 summers ago since I rode that far and, frankly, I was prepared for the pain. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I’m a realist like that.
What I had forgotten were the inclines – I can’t call them hills. I live in South Jersey where flat is the norm. So less than .2 of a mile, I approach the first incline and think about turning around and going home. I get through it in low gear and then there’s the next one. Yup. At .7 of a mile I see that next challenge and I’m not even remembering that at 1.2 miles is the half mile climb that I liken to l’Alpe d’Huez, the most famous mountain climb in the Tour de France. According to Wikipedia: The climb up Alpe d’Huez is 13.8 km at an average gradient of 8.1% with 21 hairpin (les 21 virages) bends marked with panels honoring the winners of each stage that has finished there. No hairpins here in South Jersey, but to me, my little Alp climb is just as torturous. Those same inclines exist on my return route only in reverse and they make up the last 1.2 miles.
I could take a different route, true. In fact, the first few days, I avoided the last steep climb by taking a few side streets that are less inclined. But the last 6 days, I’ve gone for the gusto and charged that final hill to look down from the crest and moan, “Ouch, this hurts!”