It came time for me to get some real hard loaded miles in and a quick overnighter on the mountain. I got home, threw gear at my bike, kinda got it strapped together, and buzzed out the door to meet Chad/Max at Le Buzz.
My ride there was delayed by stoplights and my spin-out at 18mph. I have found that if I let the bike wind down to 17ish mph, I can spin it up real hard to 20mph and then coast down to 17mph and then repeat. Is this something singlespeeders do? I finally hit the safeway and Chad and Max were ready to roll. I decided to skip grabbing dinner/beers from Safeway in the name of time/me being late. We rolled out the parking lot and started up Catalina Highway. All was well and was a brisk, cool ride on the section of road to the base of the mountain. We got passed by some guy on a Schwinn. He wasn’t loaded and it didn’t seem like a sustainable pace. I eventually crept up to him right where the real climbing fun begins, but had to stop to mess around with my iPod and get some tunes to kill it.
Climbing Lemmon on a singlespeed with hard gearing is brutal. Having a bikepacking kind of load didn’t help that much either. I had my iPod turned up so loud to distract myself from the pain. The benefit? I was smashing two extremely strong riders. I have never held that kind of pace riding up the mountain before. It was climb or die as I had no choice but to hold the speed between 9-10mph or I would have to suffer and grind the climbs out. I started out the playlist with a little godspeed you! black emperor F# A# Infinity to set the mood for post-apocalyptic despair and suffering. This was rolled up until I hit the pay station where I refilled bottles and got my lights out. Chad and Max rolled by and continued on. I switched my music over to something a little more epic to motivate me to kill the next seven miles. Hammers of Misfortune’s The Bastard gave me pause and inspiration as the epic tragedy of an oak tree unfolded. I caught Chad and Max as they were rolling by the Molino/AZT intersection. I blew by them, I was cooking! I kept this hard pace for the next 6 miles, as I had no choice but to ride hard and fast. It started to rain just as I was rolling by prison camp. It was a solid hard rain and it made me ride even faster. I pressed on even harder, knowing I got a bit of a grade reversal after thimble peak and then a grade reduction headed towards bug springs. As soon as I got on the straightaway towards bug springs I decided to wait for Chad and Max to show up. I set my blinking light up and laid on my back to elevate my legs, hoping it would do some kind of good for them. Five minutes later Chad rolled by ringing his big brass bell and max rolled by a little later. I got myself situated again, and tried to prepare my mind for the grind up to windy point.
I finally caught up to Max and Chad as they were sitting on the side of the road by the lower Green Mountain campground. We decided to throw in the towel. I caved in and went for it. My legs were starting to cramp and there weren’t any camp spots for many miles. We found a nice concrete slab, pulled out gear and beers (I bummed hard here) and made camp.
The night was interesting, I kept weird music going to keep things exciting. My mountain hardware phantom 32/thermarest neoair/msr bivvy kept me very warm throughout the night. I woke up many times to noises in the forest and once because the moon was so bright it was like someone was shining a flashlight in my face.
In the morning we woke up, Chad broke camp and headed out to get moving to keep warm. I packed up and was off next. No warmup outside of camp, no light movements, just pure attacking the windy point climb. I stopped many times to goof with my phone/layers/iPod/nutrition/camera and the climb ended up not being too bad. I eventually met up with Chad at the vista after windy point and we decided to ride to Palisades and then turn around and hit up Le Buzz for coffee as there was no way the Cookie Cabin would have hot coffee/pastries ready by the time we got there. When we hit Palisades, my knees were killing me. Probably too hard of a gear/no warmup/cold weather is not good for hard singlespeed grinds. We hit Palisades, watered up and turned around to bomb back down. I hit 39.2 MPH, probably the fastest I’ve ever gone on a bicycle (probably nothing for a seasoned jet-fighter trials pilot). I rang my bell at everyone on my way down–half taunting/half encouragement. I even gave Max a solid ring-a-ling as I saw him working his way up. I even saw Evil Patrick driving up the Lemmon for some sweet technical mountain biking. Soon, I am going to have an insatiable desire to ride some technical trails. I flipped him the bird and stuck my rock n’ roll tongue out to get him to notice me as I blew by at 35 MPH.
Chad and I rolled to Le Buzz and I scored us a croissant, Le Buzz cookie, Large coffee, and a medium latte. It was nothing short of amazing. I swung by UNO bikes on the way home to pick up some much-needed 29er slime tubes and to tell Bruce about my adventures and to show him the full up bikepacking rig.
I was going to ride over to meet my sister for some burritos and beers, but I wasn’t going to have time to make the ride, so I drove. I was still ready for more, which is a good thing. Later that night I took my dog Nana for a nice 5 miler to clean up my legs. My legs still burn when I climb the stairs in my house.
I am honored to feel such burn.