Today I decided to take a slightly more challenging route. 55 miles, 5700 ft of climbing. In the abstract, it didn't sound too horrible. In reality...

After beating up on a defenseless cousin yesterday, I figured I needed a little harder ride to make up for all of the slow riding I did. Maybe I figured I needed to atone for my transgressions. I think I did that today.

I knew I was in trouble when I reached the bottom of the mountain drenched in sweat. Usually I don't sweat that much on the trip down, which is far more descending than climbing. The closer I got to the valley floor, the higher the temperature and humidity climbed. I was questioning my day's choices, but my car was at the top of the mountain. I had no choice but to turn around and embrace the suck. I soaked my jersey and every bit of fabric I could with water to try to cool myself down, then started the long grind up.

This was the first time I hadn't seen another cyclist on the Parkway. They knew more than I did. I stopped several times on the way up, pausing to wring the sweat into an impressive puddle on the pavement. Every short breeze or downhill was cause for celebration. Every stretch of pavement hammered by the sun or increase in grade was cause for profanity. Climbing slowly but steadily, I envied the road kill I passed. At least they didn't have to go back up that damn mountain.

When my vision wasn't blurred by sweat, I'd glance down at my Road ID. Underneath all of the medical and contact information detailing how to dispose of my corpse were the words, "EMBRACE THE SUCK". Lacking any other viable options, I continued on. No calling for help, as the cell coverage on this stretch of the Parkway could be described as "lacking". If you have AT&T, Verizon is the only service available. If you have Verizon, Sprint is the go-to provider. If you have a cell phone from every available vendor, you still won't get a signal. While the Luddite in me loves this about the Parkway, the greasy smear on the pavement I may become sometimes has second thoughts.

No matter. I chose this. EMBRACE THE SUCK. One way or another it will end, so you might as well enjoy it- as much as one can enjoy melting into the asphalt.

Hopefully this makes up for yesterday's flogging. I don't think can take another day like that. One thing's for sure- I'm not heading back down there this year.


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