Upward slope

I live in a small city built on a slope above a major river. I live pretty much at the top of the hill, so no matter which way I ride my bicycle, I deal with slopes of some kind. The 10-mile route I've been following is a long, squashed oval that runs the length of the city, down to river level and back up. Our elevation is about 80 metres above sea level. The lowest spot on the route is about six metres. For the metrically challenged, that's a 250-foot difference, give or take.

Normally, I follow the route in a clockwise direction. It's flat, a bit down, then slightly up, then steeply down, then a bit up then a bit down (at this point, we're at the river), and then a fairly gentle up all the way home. I get a workout, but I don't kill myself.

I've been wanting to reverse the route to see how it would be. I knew the hills on the east end of the city were going to be brutal. I just didn't know how brutal!

The gentle downward gradient toward the west and then east along the river is not really much fun. There is very little work for several kilometres. Then the route is more or less flat along the part of the river near downtown. At that point, it starts to climb back up. Not too much. And then it goes down to river level again.

So I'm flying down that part, and I run into the biggest swarm of gnats I've ever encountered. Gnats plus leftover cottonwood fluff! But really, the gnats. Gnats having gnat sex (I read somewhere that's what the swarms are about). I'm amazed I got through that cloud without any tiny bugs in my eyes or nose or mouth. I'm not sure how I managed that while still keeping my eyes on the path (the route is off-road at that point). I wondered if there are bike helmets with bug netting.

After the gnats, the route starts to climb again. And then comes the supreme challenge—the hill I fly down for several blocks in the other direction. In this direction? Oh. Em. Effin. Gee. In the clockwise direction, I never stop, except when traffic requires. This time, I have to. I don't walk. I just catch my breath and start again (with no momentum, silly me). By the time I reach the top, I decide that maybe the heart disease that runs on both sides of my family, including among some female members, has come to claim me. Maybe this direction wasn't such a good idea.

There were more uphills after that really steep one, but nothing nearly as bad. No more walking, no more impending myocardial infarctions. And obviously I lived to tell the tale. But I'm thinking that going back to the other direction might be the better part of valour. I think I get an overall better workout without so much long, gentle downhill and insane uphill. This was a challenge. I almost met it. But it might be a while before I attempt it again.

At least I got only slightly misted on! It was supposed to be a rainy day. Raining now, but not on me. Win!

1 comment:

Fashionable Pinay in Vancouver said...

Maybe you can invent a bike helmet with bug netting? Then put a patent on it - that will make lots of $$$$! :-D