I will spare you the useless details of the decision making process. It would really only distract you from the main story anyhow. Needless to say, I decided to ride my fixed gear from the far reaches of Nashua to 129 in Chelmsford today in order to get to work. Given the current weather conditions, and the nature of biking in the valley — or any New England city for that matter — you might have considered me “ambitious” if I detailed to you my planned route. Hell, even I might accuse you of the same had you told me. Let’s get away from that notion, though. Fuck it.
I stopped at the little convenience store by mom’s place to buy a water. After a pretty relaxed stretching excersize, I hopped in the saddle and started my jam. I find the first 15-20 minutes of a long haul are generally a little tougher on your legs cos your muscles are still cold. Luckily, the first 8 miles of my ride are miles which I’ve conquered plenty of times in the past. I feel like my bike and I know every groove, every dip, every angle, every incline, and every inch of the road. It’s pretty cake, even through the most insufferable heat.
After passing through my familiar territory, I hit the route which I can not for the life of me picture in my head. Is it hilly? Is it a straight flat? I’ve been down this strip of 3A a million times, but I just can not picture it. I’m trying to envision the road in my head when this shit box van reeking to the high heavens of exhaust fumes comes in on me tight. He honks his horn — breaking my concentration as he tries to negotiate the tightest maneuver he can handle to pass me. He hits the light and stops. I’m too worried that I am going to lose momentum as I see a sizeable incline in my near future, so I come through on the drivers side to just blast this intersection. I see an opening in traffic which I can easily use to maintain my ride, so I shoot to head through. As I pass the van, the driver throws the word “faggot” at me. How heartbreaking.
I pass through the intersection and keep my jam on, really starting to feel the fatigue creep through my body. But I’ve done this shit before, right? Perservere. Fuck it! I boot up the hill and hit the crest just as my cadence starts to break. Oof. I’m feeling that one. But I look up the road, and there seems to be a lot of tree coverage, and it appears relatively flat.
I crank about 2 miles on a flat run, in a very solid clip. In my estimation, maybe about 15-20mph. I might be being generous, but it felt quick, and I was keeping cool. I passed a couple of cyclists fully decked. The man up front raises a fist and says “Yeaahhh FIXIEEE” as if to mock me. Granted, I am wearing short black jean shorts, a Married To The Sea t-shirt, my messenger bag, and my black rimmed glasses (Basically I’m looking like a total hipster >_>) — but I know how to bike. I can see you’re pedaling like trash considering your landscape v. your current cadence, and you’re dressed like your in Tour De France with your Specialized 12 Speed. Yea.. make fun of me while I pass your sorry ass on my “fixie”. P.S. - I ride road bikes too, chump.
AAAAAAnnnyways.. the honeymoon with the road comes to an end. Now I remember this road so clearly. I’m coming down, furiously, trying to maintain my clip. I see the climb — staring me right in the face. And then it happens. That moment when the 20lb bag slung around your shoulders becomes a 75lb bag, and you’re wishing that you just said “fuck the bag, I’ve got enough shit at work”. Yea, thats the moment I was in. I enter the climb on a solid pace scoot, and duck down to reach the far end of my bull horns. At this point I’m cranking, and I mean I’m really digging into the climb hard — And it feels like this 150 yard hill shot has been going on for miles already, and that your saddle has turned into that huge dude in prison showers whose been locked up for 15 years that you want to hide from. You might have found me silently begging for my lock ring not to thread out cos I was pedaling so hard. I mean there is no way I would have the strength to skid it back into place after this climb. I’m sacked, sweaty, breating hard, and their is sweat burning the corners of my eye. Fuck. Please don’t thread out. Then Boom! I’m up and over and booting down a hill now.
What a fucking relief. I hit a few more hills after, but they are childs play comparitively speaking. I wonder how those assholes on their road bikes are going to handle it. I laugh at the thought of them dropping to the most pussy gear ever to shoot up it, but I know they probably won’t. Whatever.
I come through traffic in Lowell heading up to Drum Hill. Now I think maybe I should take the first left and cut over the highway. It might be quicker. You know that point on a ride, where you question your original plan. But I decided to forego the idea and stuck with the initial plan. Big mistake. I take the second left and I start down the hill, picking up speed cos I know that I am about to hit a climb. I’m coming through a bend, and I am coming down hot. I keep tight on the inside and slap my pedal just as I hit the point to straighten up. WHAT THE FUCK? There is construction? It happened that fast. I see a cop throwing up his hand to tell me to stop. I drop my right leg and skid, sort of. The pavement was new, and very sticky.. so I bounced my rear wheel a bit. Now up until this point I’ve been keeping cool, cos I’ve been biking. But now the heat fucking puts me in a choke-hold. Not to mention the sun is radiating off the fresh black pavement. What’s worse is there was no point to stopping, the cop waves me through and now I have to climb from a dead stop. Ughh the worst.
So I am coming up to the final 25 feet of the climb before hitting the traffic point. As I come up to the intersection I get that pulling in my calf muscle. Oh shit. Ughhhh! I change my stroke to try and keep my left calf stretched and luckily I didn’t get the blinds effect.
Now I am almost flat all the way until the last road before coming into the work parking lot — which is a hill that feels very daunting at this point. I’ve come to the point where my cycling attitude has changed for the ride. As in: I don’t give a fuck about you and your car anymore. I’m weaving traffic. Fuck it. I’ll just blame hipsters if anyone complains, right? hahaha. WHAT A PLAN. Normally I hang with the rules as much as I can stand to, to promote cycling recognition/awareness within cities so motorists can understand and appreciate. Gotta do my part, right? I’m over it today though.
I kill the town center and start my traffic slaying boot to the final hill point. It’s not as epic a climb. I slowed down a lot but made it. It’s actually a long shot, maybe about half a mile.. but the grade isn’t super steep, so it’s probably not that hard for most people. I still felt like Lance Armstrong coming into the parking lot though. Dropping the bar grip and just riding in wiping the sweat off my brow. Fuck yea. I’m dying.
But sometimes being this exhausted feels like victory.