Some days you ride just to ride. Today was one of those days.
I’ve been thinking a lot about climbing lately because I’m going to ride the Tour of the Moon in Grand Junction Colorado on October 1. It’s only 62 miles, but we’ll climb close to 4,000 feet.
I’ve only climbed that far one time in my life and it didn’t end well. It was in the 1980s. I’d moved to Denver from the flat Midwest and decided to ride over Vail Pass from Frisco to Vail and back. The trip to Vail was a breeze, so my buddy and I stopped and had a burger and beer for lunch in Vail Village. Then it was time to head back. The enormity of what lay ahead hit home pretty quickly.
You see, Frisco sits at about 9,100′ above sea level but Vail is only about 8,000′. The top of the pass is 10,660′. We’d be climbing almost twice as much on the way back…over a half mile…as we did on the way out. My legs were already tired. You get the idea, right?
I bonked. If you’ve never bonked, you can’t imagine what it’s like. There I was in the middle of this beautiful technicolor wilderness alongside Interstate 70 and all I could see was black and white. I wanted to throw the bike off a cliff but that would have taken too much energy. What I really wanted to do was lay down and take a nap…a really long nap. If I had my way that day, I’d still be sleeping there today. Needless to say, it was a real ordeal getting back to the top of the pass.
So with the Tour of the Moon on the horizon and Ogden replete with climbable hills and mountains just about everywhere I look, I have decided that I’m going to seek them out and get up them as best I can. Today’s goal was to head towards Ben Lomond Mountain, an Ogden landmark. Rumor has it that Ben Lomond was the inspiration for the Paramount Pictures logo. Could be…I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that people climb to the top on mountain bikes via a trail on the other side. It starts higher, but it’s a beast thing to do any way you look at it. I just wanted to stay on the road and keep going up until the road ran out. I did, too. Total elevation gain? Over 2,300 feet. Not too shabby for an old man. I feel good, too. In fact, I’m on top of the world.
This is what amazes me about cycling more than just about anything else I’ve ever done. You can always find a new target to shoot for. You can always discover a new way to have fun. You can ride for transportation or you can ride to set milestones. You can ride around the block or around the world. You can even ride just to ride with no particular destination in mind. It’s all good…whatever type of cycling you choose. So choose…