“This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.”
The 31st edition of the Dirty Dozen is in the rear view mirror. I made it up all 13 of the steepest hills in the city and in the world, really (Canton Ave. has a bid for at least the steepest grade in the world). I never stopped. I never put my foot down. I made it up on my own power on the first attempt all 13 hills.
Now I can move on with the rest of my life.
They really should call this the Dirty 30 because some of the hills we used to get to the actual hill were just as bad. I made it up all of those without fail as well.
I feel pretty good. I did drop a 40-foot ladder on my foot while hanging my Christmas lights yesterday so as to forget how bad my legs hurt.
So, what did I learn? Why did I do this? This can’t be good for you??
Well, doing something like this involves a great deal of pride. The good kind as well as the bad. They feed off each other in such a situation. The shame of failing is so great it’s palatable as you pass people walking or crashing on these multiple 30% and more roads that seem to never end.
“If you stop, you fail ALL of the hills,” your pride keeps screaming.
But, you want to do it so you can say you did it. That’s the bad pride. “Look at me, I’m a Badass,” it says. Well, it’s kind of got a point. This race is a tough guy (or gal) race.
There are four things you need for this race and they are as follows: strong legs, good gearing, insane bike handling skills and supreme mental toughness. But, the mental toughness aspect is supreme.
This is a race where you can have all of the first three things on that list and still fail.
I saw plenty of that on Saturday.
My legs were strong. Steve and I trained separately and together quite hard and intense for about two to three months. We knew our legs could handle it.
My gear was pretty good. My 1980s Cannondale had a new chain on some Frankenstein-ed chain-rings. They of course stuck and required some kicking to get it into the right gear before the first few hills. I also flatted at the top of hill #2 Sharps Hill and had to make a quick change before Berry Hill. I was almost completely fixed by the time the sag wagon showed up and offered a floor pump and some lube. I buried myself pretty good to catch back on and flew up Berry Hill just in time for the group to head to the next hill.
Good legs covering inadequate gear. The road mechanic sternly admonished me for putting these goofy rings on my bike the wrong way. Sorry dad. Gosh.
As for the bike handling I feel pretty good after touching wheels several times from people behind me and not falling. There was an overabundance of salt on most hills just piled up in clumps everywhere causing spinouts and crashes. Thanks Bill Peduto for your salty vigilance. On Eleanor I had to ride through a sewer drain depression filled with salt to miss a bigger pile of salt where people were falling over.
As you made it up the final kicks of hill #13 Tesla Street with the end in sight, your mind starts playing tricks on you. “Just stop,” it says. “Shut up,” you say and battle through. That was actually every hill the whole way all day. But, making the voices stop or at least keep to themselves trumps any hill workout or S-Works Venge with disc brakes or BMX skills any day.
So, what did I learn? I learned I CAN overcome anything. And I’m proud of it.
Bring on the Zombie Apocalypse.