wednesday's lesson: how to waltz down a descent
**One of the valuable cycling (and life) lessons I learned today is that to face your fear you have to make yourself more vulnerable ** Today I climbed and descended a mountain, stared down a mountain goat at 67km’h and pushed the pace at over 40km’h on the flats.
Wednesday started out rather dreary as clouds and rain found its way over Puerto Pollensa. Oscar was supposed to meet me at the hotel at 10 but I received a phone call during breakfast that he wasn’t feeling well, so it was meant to be that I took a rest day. With light rain in the area, I found my way over to the centre where there is a wonderful market each Wednesday. I walked around and snapped a few pictures and scoped out which vendor had the best fruit, nuts and other things I’ve been missing since arriving in Mallorca (still missing peanut butter or any kind of nut butter for that matter). After amassing a small fruit market of my own I stopped for a café and chilled out for a bit before heading back to the hotel. At this point it looked like the rain had stopped for a bit so I got changed and decided to head out for a ‘recovery ride’. After yesterday’s ride I thought it would be good to get on the bike and just do an hour or two of light riding to loosen up a bit after yesterday’s climb. As a result, I left my helmet at the hotel, only brought one bottle, no food and no phone and only 4 euro; basically no security.
As I headed south to Alcudia I started to feel pretty decent and decided to make my way west to Muro then to Campanet , Llubi and back to Selva. Admittedly after yesterday’s day in the saddle I was trying to hold back and let my body rest cause rest is good. However, the closer I got to Selva, the more I thought about yesterday’s climb and less than enthusiastic decent into Pollensa. I knew there could be rain in the mountains as dark and rain-filled clouds hovered above so I was on the fence about deciding the fate of today’s ride. I could go up the climb again and risk blowing-up on my recovery day, getting soaked (my bike also) or having a hair-raising descent on the way down because of the 60% humidity and/or rain that could greet me on the top. I had every excuse in the book not to go up today, coupled with my not having a helmet and then hearing someone’s voice in the back of my head expressing disappointment…
When you ride 2 hours out of your way and find yourself at the base of a climb there’s only two options, go up or turn around. Today was very windy and if I did turn around I’d be greeted by a sizable headwind all the way back to the hotel or I could climb up to Lluc and descend into a headwind and then muscle my way back to the hotel; the choices.
Lluc: Take 2
Before leaving for today’s ride I decided it would be wise to load some familiar music onto my ishuffle, something I could dance to and get my groove on with so out went Tiesto’s Klublife and in went the good stuff. I have to say, it’s really quite amazing what a difference it makes having the right tunes and using the full road, picking your own line as you plunge down at break–neck-speed.
The climb up from Selva took 26:30 today (I actually made an effort today for metrics as some have expressed concern that I might be lounging instead of training on my way up a mountain) and my watts were steady around 250, heart rate sitting about 160 and again finding a good tempo in my 39x21, 39x19. I was greeted by a headwind on my way up today so I had to use each hairpin to give me momentum as I banked hard and used the entire road to my advantage to keep my speed up. Made it to the top without blowing up (good news) and then zipped up my vest, pulled up the arm warmers and took a deep breath.
The descent started fast; fortunately it was dry with only the humidity to contend with. I deftly shifted into my 53x14, pedaled and tucked into the first turn. I decided today I needed to focus on speed, using the road to my advantage and pick my lines carefully making sure I stayed low, keeping my centre of gravity over the bike and my eyes way up the road for crazy tourists that don’t know how to stay on their side of the road. After finding a really good rhythm of tucking, pedaling and getting low I started to feel like I was waltzing again. Picking some really aggressive lines, I took up the whole road without risking getting hit head on and continued down.
**Mom if you’re reading this… stop. The rest of the next little bit is rated R. Skip this paragraph for the PG-13 section**
Started to feel comfortable again; of course this all happening in the span of about 10-15 minutes and so I started to push the envelope a little more still acknowledging the fact that I was sans-helmet… A straight approached and so I tucked again, 53x12, hit 60 then 65 then 68km’h. Chin to my stem, knees tucked to the top tube, feet parallel to the ground and everything as aero as possible I tucked my head down because the tears began to start. Full speed ahead with nothing in front of me except a turn, I kept my head down hearing (and feeling) the air whirl around me. Approaching the turn I looked up and saw a mountain goat standing at the side of the road. At this point I’m thinking, if he so much as even moves in my direction this isn’t going to be pretty; I’m booking it down at 68km’h and Billy the goat is standing there giving me this intimidating stare down like “dude, I can really mess you up right now by making a wool coat out of you”. Of course this is happening in an instant but seems like time stands still when you start to imagine the possibilities. Good thing for Billy and me, he decided to just hang out and play spectator.
After carving my way back to the base of mountain I was so enthused I had a special rush of adrenaline that saw me pushing like a man possessed (as Phil Liggett would say) all the way back to the hotel hovering between 40-44km’h spinning out my 53x15.
Good day came out my recovery day; a pleasant surprise. It’s really the little things in life isn’t it?