Saturday, February 17, 2007

This too was darkness....

Decided that this morning was the morning to do the Usery Pass rede up to the parking lot before the dam at Saguaro lake and back as it would give me long hills like Helmet Peak, and also some rollers similar to the ride up to Arivaca so although it would only be a 34 mile ride I figured it would at least have the stuff I need in it. To add icing to the cake I got off at 5:40 am in a pleasant state of predawn darkness. Nature determined that I needed a little extra training and supplied a rather brisk headwind to make the hills a little harder. From my house it is a continual climb up to Usery Pass resulting in an 800 foot elevation gjain. It starts out easy just as Mission Road does heading to Helmet Peak road. Then it slowly steepens and soon you are going under 10 mph (at least when there is a spanky headwind). I was hoping to give my lights a good near 40mph test heading down the back side of the pass but dawn was just peaking over the hills as I entered the final 4 mile slog of the climb. I notched my light down a tad and noticed I could see the road far ahead a lot better. Guess I had my light set a little high, good to figure that out before the 400k. By the time I reached the top I had shed my gloves and unzipped my jacket. It was getting light but not so light I couldn't see the effectiveness of my headlight which did just fine near 40. My hands without gloves on the other hand got quite cold. I had to put the gloves on when I got to the bottom of the hill. Figuring that since it was winter the boat traffic would be light I turned East and headed back towards Saguaro lake to ride the rollers for awhile. I made it back to the turnaround pretty quick and was happy there was facilities there as searching bushes and vegetation for a place to go is no fun. By the time I got back on the road again I had cooled down unfortunately but managed to warm up again fairly quickly. Arriving back at Salt River Recreation I determined a climb back up Usery Pass would likely be better training for me than the Thigh Master of a hill "King Kong" . It is a lot closer to the Mission Road climb so I figured I would get the extra climbing in for a total of over 2000 feet. Climbing the backside of Usery Pass I saw a rider up ahead who I was approaching from behind. I couldn't believe I was actually gaining on him. After a bit he started to walk. As I went by I asked if he needed help and he said no. Heading back up the hill I thought of the first chapter of "Heart of Darkness" where the captain says "This too was darkness" Implying that England was once a wilderness to others such as the Romans, comparing it to deepest darkest Africa but many years previous. I pondered on how I used to think the 27 miles around the Usery Pass Loop from my house was an insanely long bicycle ride and how I had to walk up Kong that first time I tried it, indeed "This too was darkness".

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