Finally some relief from this arctic weather! Yesterday it actually got up to around 50 degrees for the first time since the first of December. You couldn't have asked for better weather to go biking in. I decided since there was still 6-12 inches of snow at the higher elevations I would forgo the single track once again and get in some miles on pavement and gravel in a loop that would climb from the Briery Branch Dam to Reddish Knob, then follow the spine of Shenandoah Mt. to Elkhorn Lake where I would then circle back to Tilman Rd which would take me back to the dam.
After a mile or two up the tortuous climb on Route 924 I began to struggle and it was then I realized that my TCX has substantially higher gearing than my old road bike. I won't bore you with tooth count and other cycling nomenclature but I will just say that I was having a really hard time. I am used to in either my mountain bikes or my road bike to be able to drop into a granny gear whenever I hit a steep section or I get so tired I can no longer pedal in a higher gear. In lower gears such as these I am able to nurse my failing legs along till I get to the destination. Even through my pain and frustration during this 6 mile climb I started thinking. Yes it hurts a lot now but just think of how much better shape I will be in after this ordeal. As often happens I realized that there was was a parallel between my ride and life. Just like a bike ride, life can be compared to a journey with many different things happening along the way. Much of the time you don't really have any problems, you are just going from point A to point B, calmly spinning along on the valley floor. Then you hit an obstacle, whether it be financial instability, a death in your family, or a long excruciating climb. Unfortunately you can't shift into a lower gear to relieve the pain when something happens in your life. You struggle and struggle to get to the top of this obstacle, but then when you do the view is breathtaking.
Yes it is hard and you are in pain but after the pain is gone you are in much better shape then when you started. The fact that you couldn't take the easy way out has made you a stronger person. Will I swap out my chain ring for one a little smaller? I honestly don't know. One thing I do know is that whatever life throws at you the best thing to do is to soldier on and not the shrink away from a challenge.
My ride was unfortunately cut short by half melted snow on top of the mountain which my 700x35 Small Block 8s couldn't handle. As a fellow blogger has often said, "Going out to ride in the winter isn't about miles it is about time." I didn't put in but about a quarter of the miles I wanted to but I did get in two hours of riding (and pushing my bike through the snow) during the best day to be outside in a month.
Later this week I will have a post or two about my ongoing planning for a bikepacking trip this summer.