Time to Hit the Road


The preparations are complete. Miles of riding through the winter are but a memory. Although not nearly as steep as Mount Washington, I rode the Blue Ridger three times this year with the Potomac Pedalers Cycling Club. I rode The Hills of Ellicott City. And a ride called Happy Happy Pain Pain. Using the same naming convention, the ascent up Mount Washington would simply be called Pain Pain Pain Pain. And Pain.

Happiness comes when you cross the finish line. And about five minutes after you cross and you finally get some of the mile high+ air back into your lungs.

In April I rode up and over Blue Knob Ski Resort near Altoona, Pa. And the past two weekends I rode “The Wall” which is a half-mile portion of 17-19% grade as part of a nine-mile climb out of Altoona past (under really since there is a 200-foot tunnel) Horseshoe Curve. While in Altoona, I met some nice riders from Spokes and Skis. Two weeks ago I met “Joel” and last week I met “Richard and Stacey.” I hope I spelled her name right.

Baby ring (24t)

Unlike last year, I went ahead and had some gear changes made to my bike. Two years ago I was set to go up with a 30 tooth front sprocket and a 25 tooth rear. I wouldn’t have made it. I thought I had a 27 tooth rear gear until I counted and discovered it was 25. I immediately replaced it with a 27.

Bike on roof; look at that gearing

Last year I went with 30:27 and suffered all the way up but I made it. I did a lot of soul searching as to whether I needed to change but in the end am glad to say that, at least once, I rode the mountain without making changes to the bike.

But this year I went with the best option I could find without making significant changes. We went with a 24 tooth on the front, shortened the chain, removed the big ring, and put a 28 tooth gear on the rear. Both the 24 and 28 tooth gears are the most extreme that I could find without changing the derailleur.

Bike packed. Let’s roll!

The real challenge of this day was to remember how to reassemble the Yakima bike rack. No problem at all. However, when I arrived in Windsor the key on my key ring didn’t unlock the bike. Thoughts and me driving to New Hampshire with a bike stuck on the roof of the car ran through my head. But I brought an extra key in the coin/ashtray and it worked. Crisis averted.

Otherwise, the trip was uneventful. I left home at 9:30 a.m., made a couple stops before I hit the road, and got to the George Washington Bridge in New York City just before 3:00 p.m. which is just ahead of rush hour. I guess I could have driven the entire route but by 6:00 p.m. I had gone far enough for the day.

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