Arm warmers were the first bit of clothing I put on Friday morning. My friend Zach (who is technically a boarder at my house and therefore my roommate in a way. So he will be known as Roomie from now on) and I had planned to wake up nice and early to hit the trail. It was one of those chilly mornings where you start contemplating when you’ll turn on the furnace for the season. My room was freezing, so I changed into my cold-weather cycling gear.
After a cup of coffee and a banana, we were on the trail. It was dawn, my absolute favorite time of day to be cycling. Dew was on the grass, the sun was poking through trees on the horizon, and we were in the thick of Patapsco State Park. Never have I heard such pure silence, the kind of silence you find in the woods when it’s not actually silent. It’s just a rustle in the branches above and water trickling somewhere nearby.
We saw deer every ten minutes or so throughout the ride. My favorite was a beautiful eight-point buck just ten feet from the trail. My picture did not turn out well because he started walking away but here it is nonetheless.
The trail was wet and slippery, especially on all the freshly fallen leaves. As soon as Roomie and I were getting used to the trail, it gets all slippery. Challenge accepted.
It was our third or fourth time on the trails around the park, so we’re developing favorite trails. I’m the only one developing favorite climbs though. Roomie hates all climbs. He’s more into pounding out a quick pace over flat ground for a long time. If the road is flat, the man can seriously pull for an hour straight and not drop speed at all. I’m good for about twenty minutes, tops. Unless it’s a climb. That’s the only time worth putting in that kind of work. I loved the climbs I found out West last summer that lasted several miles at 6-8% grade with pitches of 10-12%. I did a 50 mile climb workout on one of those climbs and it was wonderful. Grizzly Adam once said, “How do you become a better climber? Easy. Climb.”
In the spirit of that declaration, I am going to find the hardest hill around with my friend Bill this Wednesday (he just did a half Ironman a week and a half ago and is doing the St. George Ironman in May. His name will forever be The Ironman). The Ironman told me about some hill that he thinks is the nastiest hill he has ever been on. I told him that’s neat, but I’ve got a hill nastier than an iced tea filled with ranch dressing and pickled liver juice (something Roomie once drank on a dare). So Wednesday we will decide which hill is nastier.
Get on your bikes.
P.S. Here’s Roomie at one of the trail heads.