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Death-rolling the Crocodile

June 14, 2011

Today’s ride: 77km—Rattlesnake Point

Weather: Overcast with some sun (cool wind to start)

If our understanding of evolutionary theory holds any water (I think it does), then crocodiles must be the perfect predator: they’ve hardly changed since dinosaurs roamed the earth. I’ve long been fascinated with crocodiles—there’s something terribly ferocious yet magically tantalizing about a crocodile wrapping its prey in a death roll. It’s so completely violent and frantic. And it’s typically over so quickly. Well, as they say: some days you death-roll the crocodile; some days the croc death-rolls you. Actually, I just made that up. I don’t think anyone says that. The notion is sound, but who really death-rolls crocodiles? I’m drifting off-track, but the bigger point is that today I took on a nasty climb and survived—just…

My “crocodile” was going up Appleby Line to Rattlesnake Point, a rather peculiar outpost on the Niagara escarpment, which stands out well above its surrounding landscape. I’m not altogether sure why I’m trying to connect crocodiles and rattlesnakes, but there you have it. This is a monster of a climb, even if it is short. Including the fairly tame run-up, below, the climb works out to 10%. Some of the pitches are completely nasty; it’s been a very long time since I actually worried about having to put a foot down in mid-climb. It was slow, my lungs were burning, and my legs were screaming at me. I don’t remember the last time I suffered all three at the same time. This was humbling.

Is it just me, or do all pics of roads rolling away from the camera start to look alike? Any tips on how I can liven up the photography on the site?

The truth of it is I should have done better (and will get another chance on Friday). I stopped at the bottom to take the two pictures that accompany this post. That was mistake number one. However modest, it took some work to build up any momentum before things started going up sharply. Mistake number two: at said stop, I took a big swig of my sports drink, which I felt bubbling around as heart and lungs went to work. Not good. Mistake number three: I attacked the bottom of the steep bit much too aggressively, building up into a sprint out of the saddle, which took my heart rate into the red much too soon. A more humble and patient start to the climb might have helped me sustain my endurance better.

Otherwise, the ride went well (I got a fly in each ear—at different points—and swallowed another, which was scary, since I thought it was a wasp). This ride also marked my crossing the 1000km barrier, which is a good (albeit belated) number of kilometers for Bikes to Rwanda. It was nice to feel as though I’m headed in the right direction, and I hope to get in more riding as the summer progresses. This Friday, I’ll repeat today’s route with two colleagues who also ride (today was about making sure I could do it before making a fool of myself in front of others). Shooting for a minimum of 150km a week is a good target.

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