Tonight was my weekly hill training ride. I've been doing 20 milers with about 900 feet of climbing (~45ft/mi) for the past month, and while the big hills still drop me down to the lowest gear and I can't maintain cadence, I felt it was time to bump things up a little, so I decided to extend the ride out to 27 miles at 1300 feet (~50ft/mi). So I mapped out a ride to Attica (yes, The Attica) and went for it. I visited Attica last year on my 2nd Metric Century, but I took an easier route than tonight. Tonight I took a more southerly route that has a giant hill leading up to Attica before a nice drop into the valley.
The first four big climbs are all familiar to me; I do those on the 20 mile hill ride. The 5th big climb is new to me, and unfortunately I didn't make it. About halfway up (~10.5 miles in), I faltered. My legs stopped working and I had to get off the bike. Almost felt like my lunch would end up on the side of the road, but luckily it didn't. I tried to get back on the bike and finish the climb, but I just couldn't get the bike going because the gradient was too steep.
Now, I have always made it up the hills I've tackled before. I've designed my bike with a 24/34 low gear and I assured myself that with this low gear I could climb up anything, even El Capitan. I did not believe in walking up hills, it's... impure. But reality eventually set in, and I performed a walk of shame up the last few hundred feet of the hill. It's a good thing I did, because even walking at 2mph, my pulse was near my max, and it was tough as hell even walking. So here I am, admitting my first real defeat in a year of non-stop cycling. It's humbling. Average speed by this point had dropped to around 9mph. I left the computer on to record the ascent even though I was walking; killed my average speed but hey, I don't believe in brushing failures under the rug.
The rest of the ride was pretty good after that. After that last hill it was pretty much downhill for a few miles. That was fun but also scary when the road suddenly terminated at a huge decline at a stopsign leading to a busy(ish) highway. My brakes proved to be worthy of the challenge however and all was safe. I was going against the wind the whole way up the hills, too, so coming back home was (literally) a breeze. My legs apparently still had some juice left in them because I powered up some hills at 16mph. Saw a beautiful sunset as well, which really made my day. Ended up finishing the ride with a 12.1mph speed, a whole 1mph over my goal, so I guess there's that as well.
This incident had me thinking all night. Earlier in the day I was having an argument with some coworkers who tried to tell me that spinning is much harder than actually cycling. They kept telling me that I was being ridiculous because I can bike for 8 hours straight whereas they can only spin for 40-60 minutes before they can't stand it anymore, so obviously "cycling is much easier than spinning". They wouldn't listen to my arguments that you never fight wind or go up hills on a spinner. You're not moving all 400 pounds of yourself, plus 30 for the bike, on a spinner. A spinner never got my HR anywhere as high as a real bike does. Well; a new data point to consider: a spinner has never made my legs seize up and make me want to barf my lunch out over the road. Point: cycling.
Anyway, that was my adventure for the night.