I was riding up brokenback in my granny gear, cold, tired, cussing a little, late in the game on Sunday, and I got to wondering how many times I’ve climbed that thing. 100 times? Less? Certainly not as many times as, say, C-Ham, or Captain America, whose residence at the base of the beast lends itself to more frequent trips up the mountain. But a substantial number nonetheless, I keep going up it and it doesn’t really get easier. I tend to forget just how hard the Pantani ride is. 47 miles or so. 5200 feet of climbing. Not so bad on paper. But the reality of brokenback changes your mind about that when you keep turning the corner into another 100 yard, 20 degree pitch – again and again for 3.5 miles.
In short, it’s amazing.
|I really just can't get enough pictures of Todd humping this sign.|
I wondered, somewhere about Stone Mountain Vineyard (whose owner recently passed away of a heart attack) about the effect Marco Pantani (also technically a victim of a heart attack) has had on my life. And maybe it was the proximity to all of that dying young that made me acknowledge that Pantani, despite his own radically unhealthy obsessiveness, has made me a healthier person. In a way, the pain that he put himself through inspires me to go out and ride anyway, whatever that anyway might defy. Cold. Rain. Snow. Sleep deprivation. Too busy with work. Too lazy. Every winter, when I might otherwise tuck inside for a while, the notion that on the Sunday after Valentine’s day I will have to climb brokenback with very little left in the tank reminds me I should probably get off my ass and train a little.
But every man experiences the Pantani ride his own way. More details here and here and here, and perhaps my favorite of all way down at the bottom, here. Among other places.
Onward, but still on the topic of training through the winter instead of just honing mint lattes and cupcakes down your neck, might I suggest a little Sherando.
|Or a whole lot of Sherando|
50 rugged miles. Torrey, Kennedy, Slacks, Mill Creek, a little wintergreen sting in the tail, and then, perhaps most importantly, a Beer Garden. That's where they grow beer. New Belgian Beer to be exact.
As my wife asked me, “Do you think people know what they’re signing up for when they sign up for something like that?”
Firm answer, “no.” And thank God for that. Otherwise they wouldn’t do it. And by they, I mean, we. Scare hours after you have suffered cramped and bonked your way down Torrey ridge, you can barely remember just how bad you felt in that moment. The glory overshadows the pain, and yes, oh yes, you were radical coming down the final section to the Furnace.
Now drink your Fat Tire. That’s what counts.
Up, up, up.