When Earnestina and I arrived at the Sabraton meeting place, the only other bike within eye-shot was under some itinerant restaurant worker in blue jeans. Birdman had flown off to FLA and Lord MonkeyButt bailed due to the weather and flat out laziness. The rest were unaccounted for- presumably huddling together against the cold.
Riding alone in winter always lulls me into lapses of fancy. I find myself floating in memories of each hill I climb, both buoyed by improvements and weighed down with losses. Some climbs slip away unnoticed in the haze of semi-consciousness while others pull me back to reality. I stopped twice on Breakiron.
Before you get your chamois all twisted know that it was not of necessity, but of science. Believe it or not, my telephone has grown an inclinometer. Being left to my own devices on this wintry day, I thought to take some measurements for my fellow grimpeurs. I spent the bulk of the hill bitching under my breath about faulty apps because the readings were unreasonably low. "I know that damn section is more than 13 degrees," I muttered to the wind. It wasn't until halfway up Nicholson until it hit me. Slopes are measured in % grades. Faulty brains, not apps- sorry Steve Jobs. I'll try again some other day.
But, I do have some good technical information on the hills. Map my ride has changed the display for their ride profiles. Now the profile is divided up into percent grade sections. For a long ride they are useless because a gradient section can encompass an entire hill and read 0%. But, the smaller you make the course, the more accurate the readings become. For example, a mapping of the whole of Breakiron will give readings that are a bit low, because they are averages of a certain distance. You can see this on the link to the right. However, I mapped out a small section of Breakiron, the one from the bike path to the open field and, lo and behold, grades of twenty percent http://www.mapmyride.com/route/us/wv/morgantown/365081430375 (Check the little box in the upper right hand corner below the distance indicator to get the graphic.). I knew it. I don't think the measurements exceed twenty percent on the site. Mudpike also has 20 %'ers. See, these hills are hard. And, they get harder with every holiday ham and Christmas turkey.
Up at the top, Earnestina wanted to take Sand Bank Road and get off the asphalt. Even up there, the forest was already in a late winter dress of sooty snow and barren trees. Not at all inspiring. If fact, expecting to see boughs bending with white caps, I was a little depressed. That is why we took the bike path down, to find a little lost beauty.
Halfway to the bottom, we encountered the only other biker of the day. As I was extolling the virtues of the cross bike to myself- no worries about flats, etc., we came across a mountain biker kneeling mid-path. He was fixing a flat. Oh, well. After a little conversation about the group ride of one I was on and his plantar fascitis, he and his fixed flat were left in my whirl of snow flakes.
All in all it was a pretty good ride. I chose just the right clothes, right down to the t-shirt under my helmet, and was never cold. The solo effort hid the effects of my extra 4 or five pounds and the one or two ride/week training schedule. Unfortunately, Saturday's cross race should shine a white hot light on the fruit of my apathy. At least I'll make prime fodder for the hecklers.