Monday night I rushed home from work, unloaded my bike from my car, and got ready for a ride all in about 10 minutes. After double checking my gear I took off on my bike. I had a nice loop planned out and like every other ride this year the wind was in full force. Heading out wasn't too tough, but I was battling wind whipping at me from the side. About 35 minutes into my ride I found my turn off for the climb I had planned. You can see the climb below, it was just under 600 feet of climbing and honestly one of the toughest hills I've ever climbed.
As I grinded along in the lowest gears possible I kept thinking that I was insane. I'm not the person that purposely finds climbs to ride, I'm usually the one planning my route to detour around them. About three quarters of the way up I knew that I had my first "out" or in other words my escape route. If I was too tired to continue to the top I would just take this road and I'd be in the clear for climbing. When I approached my out I was greeted with a gravel road and a big sign informing me that it was a seasonal highway. I was actually happy when I saw it because it meant I had to suck it up and continue on. As I crested the top of the climb I didn't see the road continuing. Instead I was greeted by another seasonal gravel highway. I'll use the term gravel loosely here because it's not one of those nice packed gravel trails, it's rocky and messy and not suitable for road bikes.
As I was climbing this hill I kept thinking that I would hate to have to go down the same road. Loose gravel on the shoulder and insanely steep sections would make a fast descent that seemed a bit dangerous, especially while riding alone. So here I was at the top of the climb trying to come up with a plan on how to descend it without covering myself in road rash. I briefly considered calling my parents and having them pick me up but I'm sure they wouldn't have appreciate the 40 minute drive to rescue me from a hill I intentionally climbed. Walking my bike down the 1+ mile didn't sound appealing, so I decided to use my brakes and keep myself at a slow speed and work my way down comfortably. Even with my death grips on my brakes I still proceeded down faster than I would have liked and let out quite a few expletives on the way down.
I'm trying to get used to the fact that when I choose to do hard climbs that also means that my average speed is going to drop way down. Going into the climb I was averaging around 18 mph and after the climb I dropped into the low 14's. My 6+ mile almost flat ride home couldn't even bring my speed up that much. I know speed isn't everything and I'm pushing myself on climbs I wouldn't have even considered doing last year. In the end I think that's all that really matters.
When people question my motives for moving where I moved I should just start showing them pictures at the tops of these climbs. It's so amazing to be able to leave my house and within minutes be out in the countryside just enjoying something that I love. A 25 minute commute to work is totally worth it for the cycling alone. I guess if you're a cyclist you'd understand, but as so many of my coworkers are not they usually decide that I must be crazy or something.