When we were 5 years old, my twin brother and I got matching BMX bikes. I named mine "Speedy," because together, we were. We lived on a dead-end road: virtually danger-free. I'd ride Speedy up and down the road, all afternoon, until dark. I'd give myself little challenges, even then. Pedal down and back without stopping. Race Thomas. Have dad time me. Anything to get better, and stronger. These days, climbing 9,000 meters in a month is not an easy task. But I did it. (Actually, 9,135 meters). I don't ride every day. Sometimes I run and swim. Sometimes I row. So, riding 3-4 times a week to get to 9K was actually even more difficult than I imagined. It was those long climbs that made the difference. Those rides that gave me 10-12% of my goal; those made it doable.
On a nearly 4-hour, 50-mile ride, with 4,000 feet of gain from Loveland, Colorado to Estes Park, the long way, I thought about a lot of things. For one, I tried to name all of the characters from The Wire. (That show had the BEST names). But also, about all of the little things you notice when you're riding--especially when you're riding uphill, and thus at a pretty slow pace. A single shoe. A washcloth. Painted notes for traffic signs. A deer skull. A deer ribcage. A sign for "help yourself honey." Those things stick. A friend of mine is writing about her trek across the Mojave Desert on a road bike. It wasn't what she was expecting it to be, which is exactly the point of a challenge. I've got two new goals for next month. For one, to ride a century: a lot can happen in 100 miles, I'm sure; but I've never ridden that long, so I need to find out what, for myself.