Riding a bicycle anywhere in the high country is a lesson in hills, you choose your route based on elevation gain rather than distance. Which is why I love Hickory Nut Gap Road, not as populated as other local roads and two pretty fun hill climbs (really? does hill climb and fun belong in the same sentence?)
I always liken climbing a hill on my bike to fitting my blanket in the F*king duvet cover. I'm in it for the long haul, this is a marathon not a sprint, I'll make it to the end.
On my ride yesterday, I became one with the granny gear, spinning myself slowly but surely to the top of the hill, wondering if I was going to hack out my left or right lung at the top. I'm chugging along for what feels like forever when my Biking software says:
"Time Check: Five Minutes, .86 miles"
I made it to the top then enjoy a nice break descending the other side into Newlnx. A biker pulls up next to me as I'm descending saying, "You don't have to ride the brakes that much, you can let go a bit."
"Uh no, I can't, I'm a Mom, I've got shit to do after this, not hang out in the emergency room." I reply.
Taking a break in Newland, I start back up the hill climbing what I just descending, my legs are like, "What? I thought we were finished?"
"No body, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Just keep chugging." My software keeps reminding me I am lame with a "Time Check, no forget it, you don't want to know."
I make it to the top then with a sigh start the descent again until I feel the front of my bike go into a wobble, prompting me to stop immediately.
Shit, a flat tire.
I pull out my roadside repair kit, thinking "Well the last time I changed one of these was probably 5 years ago and it took me 45 minutes."
I open my kit and it's been raided by gnomes, or children. My CO2 is missing, as well as my tire tool.
I'm screwed. When I call to scream at them all I get is voicemail. Typical.
I move onto plan B, I'll walk the bike to Arbordale Church hide it there, take off my cycling shoes and run barefoot back to my car. It's only 3 miles, just a day at the office right?
Hadn't planned a brick but what the hell? (What's a brick? A bike to run workout, basically your legs feel like bricks at the beginning of the run)
I'm walking down singing Dory's song from Nemo when a car comes by, and this is the family part of my story.
It's an old beat up pickup, with an old dude in it, long beard, and equally old dog.
"You OK?" Thick Southern Accent, dog drooling down side of pickup truck.
"Just got a flat, I'm fine." I was going to add, "And I'm killing my kids when I get home."
"Need a ride?"
Anywhere else I'd think twice, but I'm in the country on a lonely road, an old dude, working clothes, totally safe, right?
"Sure, would you do that?" I ask thinking he's much nicer than the pickup that almost hit me making sure I swallowed their exhaust as they passed.
"Yeah, we're heading to the dump anyway. That's Poncho in the back. I've got my trash in the front because he doesn't like hanging with trash, let me move it so you can have a seat."
"No worries, it's only 3 miles, I'll just ride with Poncho."
Poncho is very excited about the company of my bike and myself, I fold into a corner of the truck with the dog, accept his wet kisses the full 3 miles down to my car. Poncho jumps out chasing some ducks away as the man helps me out, my legs a little jello from riding then sitting cramped in the truck.
"Thank you so much!" I pet Poncho.
"Yeah, I've been there, my buddies and I do Blood Sweat and Gears every year, flat tires suck."
Wait, what? You don't look like a biking dude, mountain appearances are deceiving. I was waiting for him to tell me Poncho won Westminster Dog Show.
So it did turn into a fun hill climb as we exchanged numbers and he added me to his High Country biking buddies. We's all family, helping out a friend in need, complete with the wet dog kisses.