If at first you think it’s gonna kill you, do it again (because it won’t) and then go home and check your stats (because they’ll tell you why it felt so hard). That’s the take-away from today’s ride through Red Rock Canyon.
Red Rock Canyon is on the outskirts of Las Vegas, and it’s famous for its eponymous red rocks. I took my bike out there early this morning and rode twice around the 15ish mile scenic road. The first time I thought for sure I wasn’t going to make it. Within seconds after starting off up the first hill I was sucking air like I hadn’t ridden in years and crawling at a snail’s pace (8 miles per hour! outrageous!). Not only that, but I was bundled up in jacket, legwarmers, and gloves in defense against what had been a super-cold morning. Needless to say, about the same time I started gasping for air I also started peeling off clothes and regretting not having more pockets. That sweaty, exhausting fun continued for quite a while (those first 5 miles took me 35 minutes, by far the worst time ever) — but once I passed the crest and found myself on the downhill slope, things got lots more fun: I zipped down the hill at awesome (and slightly terrifying) speeds.
Once back at the starting point, I decided that the ascent hadn’t been so bad, so I did it again. I wanted to see it it would be any easier, and I wasn’t about to go home having ridden only 15 miles. Thankfully, the second time around was easier. I’d shed the extra clothes, so my body temperature was much better regulated, and I knew better how to manage my stamina on the hills. And of course I also let go more on the downhills (just 0.2mph shy of breaking 40mph — I completed that 5-mile stretch in a little over 13 minutes, which was my best time ever).
It was a great time and I’m planning to go back every morning for the rest of the week (unless we’re doing something else fun, like hunting for prehistorical fish that live in puddles in Death Valley).