Mt Washington took my soul …. or at least borrowed it for a couple years. It’s not an honorable story, so people who know me will know it’s true. Two years ago, I signed up for the 41st annual Mt Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hill Climb. I know the exact name because it’s on the jersey I was given … more on that soon. Long and short of it, I didn’t do the ride. I was going through a divorce, my job was sketchy, my dog peed on the carpet, there’s the debilitating incident with a hang nail …. but I don’t like to burden people with my problems . Let’s just say that my superpower is my ability to come up with lots of excuses. But don’t be disappointed with me yet – we have a ways to go.
Well, the organizers sent me the race jersey. The web site, Velominati (“keepers of the cog”) clearly state “Championship and race leader jerseys must only be worn if you’ve won the championship or led the race”. Though not directly violating this rule, I’m not exactly conforming to its spirit. Anyway, I wore the jersy. I only had a couple proper bike jerseys, was riding a lot and didn’t think people would notice (remember my superpower?). Occasionally people in the pack would ride up to me and ask about the ride. Initially, I’d be honest and empty my truckload of excuses on them, but they seemed disappointed and who am I to make them sad. So, the next time this happened, I lied, “yeah, it was tough” then I quickly changed the subject. This worked fine as most people figured I was still getting over the trauma and needed time to heal.
Well it stopped working in San Diego. Who knew that Southern Californians could be so nosy? Over the winter, I rode with the San Diego Bike Club a few times – once with “the jersey”. During that ride, someone pulled up next to me and asked about Mt Washington. I gave the usual “yea, it was tough” and figured that’s the end of it. Sadly, he was the ride leader. Over the next 20 minutes he rode person to person and told everyone that this guy ahead rode the “toughest ride in the country … maybe the world”. And one after another, each rider had to bask in my stolen glory with questions like “what gearing did you use?”, “was it cold at the top”, “what was the last 200 yards like”. Anyway, I just kept digging a deeper and deeper hole. “35, 45 – whatever it took”, “black ice at the top”, “the last 200 was like going up the side of a barn”. At least I got one right.
At that point, I decided to get my soul back. I put Sauron’s jersey in a drawer til I’d earned the right to wear it. And last winter, I signed up the minute the web site opened for applications.
To be honest, I never worried that much about the climb. I’m an ok climber and having the athletic build of Steve Buscemi. I figured with a bit of training and a rear cog that could double as a family sized pizza pie pan, I’d make it to the top … eventually. Course, I hadn’t yet heard about the time limit “you mean I don’t have the entire weekend to get to the top? Well, why then start on Saturday?”
To make a long story short, though it may be too late for that, I did the practice ride and given a scheduling conflict with race day, figured I was done. As it turned out, I was able to fit in the real race and experienced 1 hour and 45 minutes of bliss and misery (blisery?). I may get around to writing up the ride itself when I have time or when I find enough meds to face that demon again. But for now I’m just going to sit back, have a beer in my “I swam the English Channel” mug and think about signing up for the 44th hill climb.