To the top of this hill, duh.

“The rustling breeze through the tree’s green leaves
makes one shudder in delight
for the forest’s quiet slumber
and the earth’s magnificant plight
melts away with each passing moment’s thought
the season is birds, sun, and dew
Spring is coming, winter is dead
it’s a time of nature’s art
there can be only one thing that fills us more full of glee:
which is letting out a large fart
after a long long pee”
-Robert Frost

I’m writing this on a slow, old desktop with one of those old fashioned keyboards that you have to press down on hard to make the keys type. And the letters appear a split second after I type them. And there’s no spell check. Also, in this computer’s format of Wordpess, I cannot make the typing screen any larger than it is, which is way too small. The sole purpose of having a blog is to write in it, but for some stupid reason the WordPress people assume that Window’s users prefer to type in a box that is 1/8th the size of the computer screen. The rest of the screen is filled up with uselss crap like the header for WordPress, the dashboard thing which is useless, and all the publishing buttons to the right. The area that I’m typing in now is literally 15% of the damn screen. I know 1/8th doesn’t equal 15%, or maybe it does. Either way I don’t care. So keep all this in mind as you read this post. Because it’s a pain in the ass for me, I intend on writing in a way that might be a slight pain in the ass for you to read, just so we’re on even terms. Or maybe not, now that I think abuot it. Because that could mean more work for me. And this computer is already really getting on my nerves. I’d like to smash it with a small ball-pin hammer. Not a large one, but a small one that would take a lot of hits before the computer was completely destroyed. Anyways,

I haven’t written about riding for a while, so I’m going to do that. Write about riding. But before I start, I’d like to make a humble appology to the vegetable bok choy. I was wrong about you. You aren’t completely disgusting. Only when made into a soup that contains nothing but bok choy, are you disgusting. I made some really good stir a few days ago, and again yesterday, that had a lot of bok choy in it and you were very tastey. So please except my appology, bok choy. Dang it, my tea is cold now. I just wasted a whole cup of tea just now. The only point in drinking tea is to drink something hot. Because let’s face it, tea has no flavor. So now I’ve forgotten about my tea long enough for it to become luke warm and it’s ruined. I just gullped the whole thing down and you know what? It was like gulping down a mug of warm water with a half a mint leaf thrown in. stupid. Just for that this is all going to be in the present tense, since you have to live in the present or else your tea will get cold before you drink it.

Tuesday:

I wake up at 5:30. I unzip the altitude tent and step out into the cold room, wich is extra cold because the window is open with a fan blowing in cold air. Why? Because it’s hot in the altitude tent. I put on a pair of sweats, socks, and two sweat shirts. I throw down a bowl of steel cut oats and two eggs. Not mixed. Separate. And a couple big glasses of water. I kit up. I stuff my pockets full of food and bottles full of water. I turn my bike lights on. Only 1 of the 3 works, the others are out of batteries. They have been for weeks. I keep forgetting to get new batteries. I make no mental effort to try to remember to get new batteries as I step out the door. It’s cold, since it’s 6am now. Not Oregon cold though. The stars are still out. I ride out of the neighborhood and head down town. 50 minutes later I stop to pee in a church parking lot. It’s my usual pee spot on route to the University, where the group rides leave from. I pull up to the Starbucks, in front of which where we all meet. The group is aound 60 strong, with 20-30 more soon to join. It’s a good group, with plenty of cat 1/2s, aspiring pros, pros, and ex pros. Plus a lot of old guys. We ride out. I go to the front to see if it’s warmer up there. It is not. We ride really slowly out of town for 25 minutes and then we start to race. Up Ajo highway, which has a moderate uphill grade. I stay in the paceline with 8 others. Guys are getting shelled at the back already, after only 3 minutes of racing. We crest the hill, go down fast. Gord Frasier attacks at the bottom of the hill at a stop light, taking a right hand corner fast and wide, almost hitting stopped cars waiting to turn left at the light. We catch him. I sit in for a while as we tear across the desert’s rolling hills. We stop for a school bus on the opposite side of the road with it’s stop sign out. Ralph, the group ride “leader” has yelled at us all for not stopping for it last week, and for later in that ride going for a sprint in a school zone. The bus finally lets its stop sign back and we go again. Some guys who were dropped might have caught back on. Who knows. Who cares. They will be dropped again soon. The pace stays fast for the next couple miles, but it’s easy to sit in. We take a left turn onto “Mcain Loop.” A politician no one in the group has ever voted for. Maybe. I go to the front since the pace slows for a bit. No one wants to pull. I break away. They catch me. I pull with a couple other guys for a while. We hit a steep slope. Guys are dropped. Probably. I can’t see, I’m up near the front. We crest the hill. Another one comes in a few minutes. I attack, look back and have a big gap. I crest the hill. I ride by myself for a few minutes and start soft pedalling to wait for them–because another, longer hill is coming and I don’t want to kill myself before we get to it. They catch me. Less than 30 are left now. The pace up the next hill is fast. Gaps form as we go single file. Only 10 are left now. We work together, but most guys sit in the back. We are caught by a few small groups of guys. We turn onto Gate’s Pass road. Attacks. I follow. As do others. Only 12 left now, give or take. I sit 4th or 5th wheel. The grade turns to false flat, then to 6%. Thom sits on the front. There is a head wind. He kills himself. Only seven left. Michael attacks and gets away. The top of the hill is less than a mile. Michael gets reeled in. Kirk makes a move as the slope goes to 15% for the last 400 meters. I stand up and am gone. I look back at the top of the climb, where some dropped guys have taken a short cut and are looking down the hill and the valley at us finishing. The say “nice job, man.” I have an 80 meter gap to the next guy. I’m breathing hard, but it was barely a competition. My ego soars. I pull into a parking lot for a vista point to wait for everyone else. We all regroup there over the next 10 minutes. It was a short practice race, only 50 minutes plus the half hour riding through town. Similar to the Shootout. Same group of guys. Half go back down the hill we just came up to add on another 2.5 hours. Half go down the other side to town. Michael and I head back to town. We all decend the hill fast, and start racing again. We hammer up the hills. I don’t know we are racing. There is a sprint. I figure out we were racing. There is another sprint. I figure out we are still racing. The pace goes up again (this is all in a distance of less than 3 miles) and I ask where we are racing. A guy replies, “up this hill.” Oh. Duh. Where else would we be racing. I sprint. We come to a school zone, the one we are not supposed to race to. We cross the school zone sign and slam on the brakes. We go slow for 30 seconds and come out the other side and pass the end school zone sign. We sprint again, to the top of the next hill a few hundred meters away. The hills are tiny bumps, but they are, of course, worth dying for as we pass cars, cars try to pass us, we go to the yellow line, we swerve. I flip a car off by accident, remember that it’s rude for me to do that during a group ride, or ever–but it’s ok for a car to hit me. We slow down and coast into town. The Grey Wolf sprints by us at top speed, wearing his Garmin kit. I think it’s Kirk at first and wonder what the hell he’s doing. We ride back to the Starbucks on University. I take a large dump in their toilet. Michael and I sit outside on the patio and chat with the other guys for a few minutes while they sip on their lattes and espressos. And a hot chocolate–not pro. The grey wolf has a coffee with Kirk in his matching kit. Someone decides it’s hillarious and takes a picture. The Grey Wolf is the self-proclaimed name of this old cyclist in town who is CRAZY. He waits for us after the shootout and other group rides and spints by us when we get into town. He often wears a solid pink kit. He howls. Like I said, he is crazy. Michael and I say our goodbyes to the Tuesday morning group ride guys and head to Mt. Lemmon. Or the base of it. I take him on a dirt road with a creek running through part of it. It is Horsehead Road. It leads to Horsehead Hill. THE hill. The hill with an average grade of 20% for over half a mile. With ramps of 30%. It is the steepest hill I have ever seen. We get to the base of it and Michael can’t stop swearing. “Mohter F-r. Son of a B. God damn it, this is F-ing rediculuos. F. F. F. Mother F-r. What the F. We still haven’t quite reached the base yet, and it keeps looking worse and worse as we get closer. I am laughing uncontrolably as Michael drops another 50 F-bombs. We reach the base. It is well above 25%. He shuts up. I shut up. I sit down on the less steap parts, and stand up on the switch backs and ramps. I am never out of my 27 tooth gear. Five minutes later? I am at the top. I am looking down at Michael, barely moving up the steepest section. I yell at him to keep going, and some other adivce. He gets passed it, flips me off. A few minutes later he reaches the top. I am laughing uncontrollably at him. At the hill. At the pain he his in. At the pain I had just endured. He swears a few times and we both agree this hill is amazing. We head down, brakes on full blast. We ride back to the base of Lemmon and climb past 5 miles. we start slow, but ramp it up, both half-wheeling. It flattens out a bit and I decide to drop him. He gets into my draft. We sprint. We turn around and ride home along the river bike path. He is bonking, so I give him a goo and purposefully ride harder as he hangs on. I feel good. He finally cracks and we soft pedal. He turns off the path and says adios. I keep going for another half hour until I am home. A little over 6 hours today. I still feel good though. I eat and watch Star Trek the rest of the day. I eat some chocolate ice cream too.

Wednesday:

I wake up after a little under 11 hours of sleep. I am tired. My legs are tired. I eat a large breakfast of oats and eggs and mushrooms. I lay around the house all morning. I do trivial things and email USA Cycling that they sent me the wrong racing license again. I am not a cat 2 you idiots. I leave the house late, past 2pm, because there is a crit starting at 7:05pm that night that I am doing. First comes Mt. Lemmon though. I do three repeats to 5 miles on it. Not hard. Just tempo. It is kind of cold out, and windy. I didn’t bring quite enough clothes. I did bring enough food though. I always do. I have ten pounds of rice cakes, bars, gels, and powders in my pockets. I call Michael to make sure he is racing the crit too, since he will be my ride home. His hamstrings are tight and tired. He rode 5 hours earlier that morning. I convince him to race the crit. I begin riding to the crit course. It is 20 miles from where I am now. I stop at Circle K for a High Rev Mocha. I drink some of it. Fill it back up and dump it in my water bottle. I continue riding. It’s getting dark out now so I turn on my lights. I remembered to get new batteries for one of them. It is completely dark now. I am afraid I will miss the start. I have been hammering the pedals for an hour now and I still haven’t reached the course yet. It is on the far outskirts of town to the South. On a go-kart course. I get lost in what appears to be a dairy parking lot or country fair type place. I am pissed off now. I ask a couple people where the go kart course is. They do not speak english. I get a call from Michael as my phone is about to die. He is asking where I am. The race starts in 15 minutes. I get pissed off at him because he is mubling in the phone. I curse him for his mumbling. I hang up. I am tired and cranky. I call him back again. He says he will meet me out on “somethhing something” road. I cannot hear him. I hang up and ride in the direction of a bunch of big lights, where I am guessing the go kart course is. I guess correctly. The desert is pitch black except for my two lights and the go kart course, which is still off in the distance. There are no cars out here. It is cold, and windy. Michael calls me to see where I am, I see his car as he passes me. We hang up. He pulls a U turn in the road and comes in front of me to give me a draft. I try to hammer the pedals and stay up with his tiny little beat up old white car. I cannot. He is going too fast. I hammer until I catch him again, he accelerates too much. We do this for a few minutes as I burn off the remaining glycogen in my body. He later say he was only gong 25mph. Crap. He misses the turn to the course. We circle around. I ride in front, going hard over the gravel road. We come to the parking lot. I sing in and pay the $10 entry fee. I am cold and tired. I have been riding for over 5 hours. I am snappy at the guy who is trying to sign me in. The wind keeps blowing things off the table that I’m trying to sign. I grow angrier and angrier. Michael pins my number on. I empty my pockets of all the food rapers and uneaten food. They are starting the crit late, lucky for me since I got there past 7:05. I turn off my bike lights and get on the go kart course. It is rediculous. 13 corners during 1KM. It’s all sprinting. Before the race starts, we all line up into two lines and do match sprints for $20. I destroy my first guy. I go up against Michael the second time and he nips me at the line. He beats his third guy as I yell at him to win and he gets the $20. Post-race pizza money. The race starts, half the guys in the match sprint go home, they had just finished the B race. Everyone is afraid of racing against me since they recognize me from Shootouts and other rides. Little did they know…The race started and there were only 5 of us. Five. I am already messing up all these corners. Remember, it’s a go kart course. Every cornere is seems to be 180 degrees. I am at the back for the first lap. Then the front for the next. Then me and one other guy trade pulls for the next 15 minutes. Two guys get dropped. Michael sits on. We are going to try to win the $5 prime for extra pizza money, and the overall win too in case that also includes money for pizza, which it does not. The other guy wins the prime. I cannot go above 1,000 watts anymore. Pretty soon I am getting dropped. I catch back on. I pull. I get dropped. I catch back on. I pull. I get dropped. I cannot go above 600 watts anymore. My vision is very blurry. I cannot go hard enough to make myself breath hard. I get dropped for good and sit 100 meters behind Michael and the other guy. They are both taking even turns pulling. I am no longer able to go over 400 watts. I have not bonked. It is something different. I just simply cannot go fast at all anymore. The race is finally over. Michael got beat. But we still have that $20 for pizza. I pound 600 calories of recovery mix I have been toting around in my pocket all day. My vision is bad. My eyes are blood shot from not wearing sunglasses for the race, since it is nightime. We all chat with the the guys who put on the race and the other racers. We say goodbye and load up Michael’s car. We are not fit to drive. Both of our blood/alcohol levels are .00 but our blood/fatigue levels are .99s. We drive back to the city with the heater blasting hot air. The car lights and street lights twinkle as my vision remains blurry. I have no idea where we are. We are on University street, in front of the Starbucks. I have been here maybe 100 times before. We park the car and walk across the street to the pizza by the slize place. It is packed with college students. The whole street is packed with them, dressed up and getting ready to hit the night out at the bars or wherever they’re going. It’s a Wednesday night. It’s a good night to not do homework and to go get drunk. It’s college. I am in a stuper. We each order two massive slices of pizza with the match sprint money and take our hoard outside to the front patio and sit under the outdoor heater and watch people go by. There is a one-man band playing a guittar and singing next door at the other restaurant. His music is conflicting with the music of our Restaurant. I wonder if there’s an understanding between the two restaurants that their music volume cannot exceed a certain limit. I devour my pizza. My vision is still blurry. Michael and I watch girls walk by on the sidewalk. We cannot tell exactly what they look like. Our eyes are blurry. I am still wearing all my spandex and bike shoes. After a while of sitting there in our stuppors, we walk to the car. “She’s hot,” I say as we make our way to the car, nodding in the direction of a blond. “That’s a guy,” Michael says. “Oh,” I say. “He has nice hair. He must use conditioner.” We continue walking towards him/her and to our car and discover he’s actually a parked Moped, slightly rusty. Our eyes are blurry and I’m forgetting where we are again. I’m wearing Michael’s ski coat. Michael is five foot six, questionalbly. The sleeves reach my elbows. I think I have remembered to take my helmet off. We get in the car and blast the heater again. He drives me almost all the way home and drops me off at a circle K. I ride 15 more minutes and get home a little past 10pm. I get in the bathtub with a bowl of quinoa and some Jack Johnson’s Inaudable Melodies. I lay there for half an hour with the lights off. I get out and finish off the chcolate ice cream. I lay in bed and rub some magic chinese healing oil on my legs. It burns like icyhot. I get some on my groin by accident. Damnit it burns. The altitude tent puts me to sleep, which for some reason takes longer than it should. My ten dollar Good Will mattress feels like a thousand geese feathers hovering in warm air, being kept there soley by the melody of harps being plucked by life-size bottles of NyQuill. Shut up legs, and do what I tell you.

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