Then came the toughest part of the trip. So much of biking is mental. When you’re in the city, you have to be alert at all times, aware of everything around you. When you’re biking long distances, you just have to keep going. When you’re climbing, part of what gets you through it is knowing there’s going to be a descent on the other side. We were all expecting a spectacular descent after this monster climb. And it just never came. We even kept climbing for a while. I guess we were on some sort of ridge (Rt 443 to Albany) but it was extremely demoralizing. And HOT. Again, the heat does not agree with me. This was when the heat was making my hands sweat so much that I couldn’t shift, so not only were my legs exhausted and unwilling to do much more climbing, my bike was forcing me to climb in an especially hard gear. I was ready to be done. We all were.
At our friend’s suggestion, we took a detour in order to get some climbing in, and it turned out to be the most ambitious climb of the trip. At the bottom, a trucker leaned out his window to laugh at us and inform us that it only got steeper. Great. Turned out to be a 1200’ climb in a pretty short distance. I have to admit though, climbing is starting to grow on me. It can be a pretty zen experience. Just you and the hill, all you have to do is keep pedaling. So what if you have to stop and regroup for a second? It’s still going to be there when you start again. It’s satisfyingly simple. And we had an equally satisfying snack of chocolate pudding and Gatorade at the top.
Somehow we just kept going, and we had to press on at a fairly brisk tempo b/c we were trying to catch an earlier bus back to the city. We made it to the bus with only a few minutes to spare and by relying on human directions—our handy technology had failed us, out of battery. I don’t remember the last time I have been so sweaty, dirty and greasy. My right calf was covered in about 7 different chain marks and my legs in general were so bruised that it almost looked as if I’d been abused all weekend.
The bus dumped us off in midtown and we were welcomed by hot, sweaty throngs of people. It was a bit of a culture shock to go from one extreme to the other so quickly. But that’s the beauty of a trip like this. It makes you appreciate the basic things. The simplicity of fueling your body after it has worked so efficiently is spectacularly satisfying. I can’t even begin to remember all the things I ate that night but they definitely included an entire bag of Kettle Chips, Antonio’s pizza (best pizza in Brooklyn, in my opinion), garlic knots, and a root beer float. And the shower! I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed a shower so much. I felt, in a word, bliss.