Monday, September 9

That New Pavement Smell

Not so long ago Mandy rode the Furnace Mountain climb for the first time.  Then she turned around and descended it faster than I ever have.  What advantage did my amazing but descendingly prudent wife have over my stoopidness?  Brand new pavement.
She delayed riding Furnace a few days until the paving job was done.  Then she went up and ticked that climb like a pro (well, better than a pro because she didn't dope) and had to descend back to the valley.  She said she hit nearly 50 mph coming back down.
I've always held back descending Furnace.  There's a hard right curve when you drop into the bottom third and then there's another hard right at the very bottom.  The geometry of both curves just doesn't gel with my neural network, and I've never been comfortable just letting go of the brakes on that particular descent.
"Fresh pavement.  You should go do it!"  My beautiful wife said with a sly grin after her ride.
"Have you taken out life insurance on me lately?"  I asked carefully.
"No.  But you can go really fast down it now."
That set me up for a potentially deadly obsession.  I then could think of little save the maximum potential speed I could reach while bombing down Furnace Mountain.
So a couple of weeks ago when Jeff and I were deep into a hilly ride of indefinite length and he said he was going to head home via 1057 (Hardwick's Creek) I saw the opportunity to bag the State Rock climb and try for a land world speed record descending Furnace Mountain.  If I climbed State Rock to Furnace then my return to home trip would take me off the Furnace Mountain descent.
"I'll ride with you to Furnace," I said stoopidly.
When I parted ways with the Mozhican the sun was sinking over the Plateau.  I had about 9 miles to go over rolling terrain so I put the spurs to 'er and headed for obscure Strava glory.  
The sky had faded to indigo as I neared the dropoff.  I kicked up my speed hoping for a stout average descent speed and lay flat over the Dogrunner, my squishy mid-section conforming to the saddle, my eyes blurring with tears.  I held back initially, out of habit, but then let go of the brakes and picked up speed until the first steep left curve.  
As I went into the last real curve on the descent I let go of the brakes altogether and spared a glance at my speed-o-meter.  48 mph.  The road lay mostly straight before me, and dropped away steeply…I cranked down hard on the pedals.  Another quick glance showed I’d matched my previous bike speed record of 52 mile per hour.
I stopped slamming on the Crank Brothers and focused on taking the last curve at the bottom while maintaining control.  The dark black pavement made a difference.  Still kinda sketchy to go that fast on such skinny tires on such a curvy road.  But fun!

Then one day last week I went back and while I did a bang-up job climbing Furnace a full minute and a half plus faster than any of my previous attempts I utterly failed to take advantage of the new pavement and gravity and bag a downhill KOM.  All I can say is that my life is pretty lame.  I'm a wuss and was afraid of dying in one of those curves.  I shouldn't have been skeered.  I know I'm not pushing the bike nearly to its limits but I'm setting artificially low limits for fear of losing some skin or breaking some important bones.

More on this Stravesty to come...

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