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Hound(s) of the Freakin’ Baskervilles

March 27, 2011

Today’s Ride: 60km—to Harrisburg (2nd Concession Rd. out; Jerseyville Rd. back)

Weather: Sunny. Frigid.

Before you read this post, pour yourself a nice bourbon. Neat. My preference would be Knob Creek. Put on Robert Johnson. “Hellhound on my Trail.” Now you can continue.

Few things get a rider’s heart rate up better than hills. Climbing is work. And your heart and lungs let you know. Your lungs by wanting to jump into your throat so you look like you’ve inhaled a wasp. Your heart by threatening to shut down the entire operation. Going uphill lets you know your body is at work, but it is also some of the funnest riding. I love getting out of the saddle to power up a short, steep hill. I say few things get a rider’s heart rate up better than hills, because I found an even better tonic on today’s ride. Just short of Harrisburg, on one such short-but-steep little hill, to my left and closing fast on the other side of a fence was a massive, mean, and barking bull mastiff. The size of a Clydesdale. And mean. Well, that was enough to get me turning the crank even harder, for at the top of the hill was the driveway to the dog’s property, with no sign of any barrier, and this beast from hell was flying towards it. Climb harder. As I looked to the top of the hill, I found that Brutus’s brother, Cerberus, was already waiting there. If I were a dog lover, I likely would have been impressed with the powerful creature’s gate and stance. Maybe—I’m really not sure these were dogs. Hungry hellhounds, perhaps, but that doesn’t do them justice. My readers will, I hope, understand and even forgive my decision to not stop and snap a picture of my imminent death. Heart, lungs, and legs kicked into a gear I didn’t know I had and as I crested the hill shot away at a pace that would have made a pro rider jealous.

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful in comparison. While the roads were fairly clear (wet from melting snow in some parts), the world was quite white. Very pretty, if still very cold. Escape from the jaws of death notwithstanding, I managed a pretty good pace, especially on the return leg, suggesting my fitness is coming. The last time I rode this route I enjoyed a tailwind on the outward leg and a painful headwind coming home. No such luck today: crosswinds meant that I was in the wind the whole time. But form getting better and it bothered me less. In spite of the ups and downs, I managed to stay in the big ring throughout the whole ride (a couple of bigger hills excepted) and rarely had to change gears. Another good sign: that I was finding the right gear more easily.

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