Remember that song by Hannah Montana? That is definitely how I felt about climbing 8,300 feet on my bike a couple of weekends back - until we reached the last epic hill. This is the story of how a Rock Star ride turned into a big, hot mess.
I was stoked, and maybe a little apprehensive to take on so many hills for a 70+ mile bike ride. But, I do like climbing in general! Everyone should feel the desire to climb: in life, in love, literally (on a bike). Upward is the way to go.
My cycling friends and I started out on the campus of UC Santa Cruz, and straight away, we were on Empire Grade. *Note anything with the words 'Grade' or 'Mountain' won't be a nice, flat road. Furthermore, any road with the words 'Creek' isn't going to be flat either, at least not in California. At least they could call it 'Waterfall' to give you a clue, but I suppose that name is too long for s a street sign. Empire Grade became Ice Cream Grade, which might be a 'cool' place, but it's just more climbing. Around this time, I noticed a very tired calf muscle. My calves are rather tight, but so far it hasn't deterred me from any exercise.
Our group stopped, ate something and we were off again. This was our first regroup after 1.5 hours and only 11 miles. All. Up. Hill.
We made it to the town of Boulder Creek, and safely made it out of some sketchy traffic, and even avoided a run-in with a large truck that didn't give us 3 feet (It's the law, people!), and a huge deer carcass in the bike lane. That was a close one!
There were some awesome descents too! I'm finally getting comfortable riding downhill as fast as a car.
For miles 25 through 55 I felt like a total rock star! I sprinted ahead a couple of times, I got out of my saddle and pushed up a couple short hills with all of my might. I was having the time of my life. God, it was a beautiful day! We saw breathtaking views of the Santa Cruz mountain (or valley, because we were ON the mountain), took some turns around a picturesque country Christmas Tree farm, and ended up at Big Basin State Park for a potty break, followed by another leisurely climb and some conversation.
I was completely doped up on endorphin! Man, that stuff is the shit!
There was a very comfortable assent through Big Basin State Park, but toward the top, I noticed my knee was not comfortable at all. I was having a hard time pushing down on the pedals without a sharp knee pain. It was the worst time for this to happen because we just reached Jamison Creek Road (the mega hill of the entire ride). "Here we go," one of my friends said as they started the climb. We had been aware of exactly when this climb was coming, and maybe only slightly aware of just how brutal it would be.
Because I'm such a 'Rock Star' I decided to start up the hill instead of heading back to town to wait for a ride back. I started walking, and felt fine, but each time I attempted to get back in the saddle, a sharp knee pain made me get off of my bike and start walking again. I got into the saddle a total of 3 times, and probably only getting about 100 feet each time. 1.5 miles of mostly walking up that hill, I decided I might as well walk the whole way. Who knows what that descent would be like. . .
Luckily, or unluckily, this road is not traveled much by cars. I missed three opportunities to ask someone in a truck for a ride. I thought about throwing my bike over the edge once. . .
So, I spent about 5.5 hours in the saddle that day, plus an additional 45 minutes walking uphill. In my cleats. Yowza!
Never did I imagine that I would injure myself on the bike. Everyone injures themselves running, right? Isn't running the devil? Maybe I have tight calves due to running, and it was just a gateway drug to biking.
Today I am going to rehab, i.e meeting with a Sports Therapist/Chiropractor today. It was just a matter of time, I suppose. I hope it's something that can be fixed, and I can help to prevent by not going overboard in the future. Otherwise, I'm going to have to go to real rehab and that will not be pretty, or cheap. But, like anyone with an addiction, it will probably be a life-long struggle.
The moral to the story is, don't take your legs out and think you are going to be Hannah Montana. It might work for awhile because you have impressive genes from your father, but there is a big difference between having some talents, and then knowing how to use them.
Don't become the Miley Cyrus of cycling.