The Hills Have Eyes

Last night was the Achluophobia Gravel Grinder, a night-time romp across gravel roads of eastern Kansas. Despite the name, no one was afraid of the dark. There were moments, though, when I began to wonder about fear of the dark, like rolling across an intersection and seeing an eerie fence with several bicycle corpses attached to it. How and why exactly were they there??? The rolling joke has something to do with banjos plucking away in the distant hay field and duct-tape underwear. While there were no “eyes” in the fields last night, there were a few “i’s,” as in intensity, during my workout today. Cheap name, but…

We were fortunate, too, that mother nature decided to play nicely. A line of downpours moved across the city just before the ride. I had the wipers on during the drive over, but by the time I arrived at the starting point, the only traces were cloudy skies and a chilly north wind. There was a small spot of drizzle an hour or so into the ride, but it wasn’t even enough to make the roads muddy.

The eight that showed up rode southward from 199th with a nice tailwind and the sun setting off in the distance. The route led us south, almost to Paola, before turning back to the north. It was about 18 miles to the turn, and the tailwind kept my attention! I was hopeful that it would subside before we turned north. But, alas, it was still blowing when we made the turn. With our slow-n-easy pace, it really wasn’t much of a bother, though. We cranked along, completing the 50-mile ride in just under 3 hours.

This was my first night ride, and I have to say, I’m hooked! Riding through the darkness brings a new level to bicycling. Dog chases bring on a whole new sense of urgency when you can’t see the enemy! And, the hills! It’s awesome to drop down an incline when you can’t see the bottom. Going up brings a new challenge, too, because with no view of the end, you can’t gauge your effort. As a result, I found myself riding a bigger gear with more effort on the hills. Granted, our pace was pretty slow so I wasn’t breaking any laws. But, I look forward to a fast night ride and the challenges of the hills.

Today, I decided to skip the local cross race, Manion’s Cross, and instead rode a pretty intense set of hill intervals. Needless to say, after grinding gravel for 3 hours last night and then hittin’ it today, my legs are pretty toasted. Not quite “race cooked” but close. The first Boss Cross races are next weekend, and I plan to be there!

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