I did have an idea of what I was signing up for though - the Pain Train. Damon is a ridiculously good cyclist and I had my fingers and toes crossed that he wouldn't throw the hammer down - I forewarned him that the ride was going to be a walk in the park for him, even if I am barely hanging on. He has done a bunch of bike racing and I remember him riding a bunch in college. We were one of about four French majors the year we graduated from St Mike's and we both studied abroad in Grenoble, France (college town surrounded by the Alps) in Fall 2001. I ran into him at Logan Airport as we were checking in for our flight across the pond and saw that he was bringing his bike - you travel with your bike?? Now that I'm actually into cycling, I'd like to go back to my college self and knock some sense into me - You are going to the ALPS! There's no better place on earth to ride a bike!! The only time I rode a bike in Grenoble was when I borrowed a friend's bike to get back to my host family's house at 4am from a party on the other side of town - I got hopelessly lost following the tram tracks in the opposite direction, and to add insult to injury, it also rained on me and ruined my clubbing clothes that I was wearing on said bike ride home.
|Christmas Market in Grenoble back in 2001|
|View of Grenoble from the Bastille - lots of hills!|
I lived in New England until I was 22 and it is sad how very little I know about the local cycling routes - I'd always viewed most of the roads around Hudson and beyond as being unsafe for cyclists because they are twisty and seem to have a fair amount of cars on them. In fact, it's quite the opposite - many of the roads we were on had very little traffic and reminded me of what I'd find in rural Virginia. The ride started off going through hilly Bush Hill Road in south Hudson before going through Pelham and eventually into Massachusetts along the Merrimack River. We came up to a few spots that unexpectedly looked familiar, but mostly we were on beautiful roads that I didn't even know existed. I felt bad that Damon was doing most of the work, pulling me along, and a couple times I jumped in front to pull my own weight but that lasted a hot second before it became obvious that I had no business being in front, ha! The ride out to Newburyport/Plum Island felt pretty good - it was still early enough that it wasn't ridiculously hot (mid-80s or so) and the roads were shaded. I was paying close attention to how much I was eating (alot) and drinking (more than a bottle an hour) and how much salt I was taking in. I think there must've been a gradual downhill because the ride out felt almost effortless at times on our way to sea level. We arrived in Newburyport in a little over 2 hours and refilled our bottles and I also drank some V8 (that stuff is magic). We made our way out to Plum Island and I was THIS CLOSE to going for a swim. It was getting HOT.
|Nothing looks more inviting than the ocean on a hot day|
Thank you Damon for taking me on some fantastic routes and showing me the great cycling that's just outside my parent's front door - I had no idea the ocean was just a bike ride away! And thanks for pulling me for 5+ hours, having company made what could've been a miserably hot ride into a fun morning instead. If you're ever coming down in DC, let me know and bring your bike!