Friday’s ride was a big one, and I was nervous. It was going to be long and hilly, and I was going to do it with my bike all loaded up like it will be for my upcoming tour. I did a lot of work in my head to try and avoid the ride–do a loaded ride next week, do a shorter ride, get a ride home–lots of bargaining, mostly because I was going to do something I hadn’t done before, and if it was too hard, would that mean I wasn’t really ready for next week’s tour of the Adirondacks? This is mostly just the nerves of newness, I knew, and I ultimately tamped them down, because J. and I had been planning this ride for weeks. She’s just now funemployed and looking to ride her bike, and I’d love a riding partner for some of these longer rides, so it was a perfect match. J. helped me train for my first century a couple of years ago, and this ride out to Oregon Ridge was one of those rides, a hot dog from Haute Dog the carrot at the end of a very hilly stick, and again, it worked.
We started out in a familiar way, up University and Roland Avenue, all the way to the top, but this time we took a right, twisting around back streets to that gas station where we stop for our first chance to pee, even if we don’t have to pee. Then the twisting continued–the big hills were later, at least they were in my memory, but it was already rolling–and I was doing it! I even forgot the bags were on the bike, and just getting over the fear of going up and down hills with a loaded bike was enough for a touch of euphoria. I remembered what my new friend told me the day before–hills are just a mental game. I even said that out loud a few times–it’s just mental, just keep pedaling, you’ve got plenty of gears and strength for this. And I did. We stopped a few times, for extended water gulps and a snack, and we took our time once we got to Oregon Ridge State Park. I changed my bike shorts–I’m glad I’ve got time to give them all test rides, because that pair’s not going to work–and we chatted and enjoyed the lushness that is this park in full summer mode. And then we were on our way, and I faced my latent fear of that climb up Falls Road off Shawan Road–and yes, it was long and slow, but I did it, and seriously, it’s just a mental game. We rolled our way up and down Falls Road, up and down, up and down, stopping to gulp water and take this picture of the green that is everywhere on a day like this one, and up that last up to that last gas station before it’s mostly downhill to lunch. We ate our dogs–mine a veggie–with glee, because we got this, and then did that last climb up Lake Avenue. It’s a steep one, but I’ve done it so many times, I know I can get up it, as long as I take my time. Which I did, before zooming down Roland Avenue to home, so glad to have this one under my belt. Thanks, J., as always, for taking me on the scary rides.