This Saturday a friend and I took a route from Burlington VT to a place some other friends were camping in Waitsfield. Rather than take the most direct route, we put together a few good looking roads from (non-topographical) bike maps we had. Most of the 40 mile ride was nice, good scenery, decent sized hills and hardly any traffic. The last 10 miles of our trip, though, took us along route 17 and over the Appalachian Gap, a 1,600 ft mountain pass. I wish we'd known of it's existence before but I guess that's what we get for lack of preparation... Anyway, route 17 was brutal, we had to push our loaded mountain bikes for probably 80% of the way up. I can't remember ever being in more pain from a bike trip. The mental anguish of not knowing how far I was from the top was also pretty bad.
Finally at the top, I stopped for a minute to catch my breath, and ignored some hikers calling to me who probably wanted to know if I was alright or insane, but I just didn't have the energy to get into it with them right there... Put my helmet back on and push down the road... Wheeeeeeee!
I really can't find words to explain the feeling I got going down the other side. Within 20 seconds of leaving the peak my speedometer reached 45 mph!! The fastest I'd ever gone before was 36 on the hill in front of my house. Anyway, I would have reached for faster speeds but there were some switchbacks I had to negotiate all the rest of the way down. But wow, what a ride. I highly recommend it to anyone who feels like they're up to the climb.
Just felt like sharing that...