I woke up and all I could think about was getting on my bike. I have ridden a bunch on the plowed roads around home, but I hadn’t been to Carrabassett Valley in months, and wanted a challenging ride for the day.
I stretched and looked out the window and I saw a temperature of -4.
Hmmm. Maybe some coffee first.
I gave it until about 10am to warm up to 2 degrees or so, figuring it was only going to get warmer. I pulled on some cold weather gear, threw my bike in the truck, and headed west.
I parked at the Airport Trailhead, figuring I could at least spin the Gauge for some miles if the trails were not set up. Fortunately, the cold made things solid, and I ended up on Crommet’s, a trail that is about 3-4 miles long and climbs about 1000 feet.
What I noticed fairly quickly was that the climbing was hard. Really hard. Immediately, I started questioning my fitness. This is just a steady climb, it isn’t crazy, I couldn’t even spin on the (sort of) flat spots very well.
There is no way this should be this hard. “That’s it Mandy,” I muttered to myself, “you are officially over the hill. Time for major changes to your diet, time to hit the weight room, running 3-4 times a week…”
While all these are great ideas for a better and stronger me, before I made hasty decisions, I decided to check out my bike. Stopping on a flat spot, I noticed my rear derailleur was not on its easiest gear.
Weird. It was on the 3rd hardest gear. I got back on the bike and shifted, laughing at myself for being so silly as to not downshift.
I rode for a while and finally got off and took off a Moose Mitt to see if I could figure out the problem.
The shifting cable seemed to have exploded into many frayed little cables that were attached to nothing.
It was about 5 degrees. Not really a great time to mess with anything, not that I would know what to mess with. Every single time I touch a derailleur I make it worse.
I decided to fix it by covering it back up with my Moose Mitt and making believe it wasn’t broken.
I had 2 choices. 1) Turn around or 2) grind it out. The biggest climbs were all ahead of me.
Also ahead of me was a delicious cookie from Stratton Brook Hut (screw the diet). Those cookies are so good. They are homemade, vary daily, and always hit the spot.
Yeah. I definitely wanted the cookie.
I smiled, jumped back on my bike and headed uphill.
At first I was full of ambition and positive attitude, but as the switch backs wore on and I had basically 2 gears to work with, thoughts entered my mind like, “No one would blame you for turning around,” and “What if they are out of cookies?”
I pushed forward, standing to pedal and finding triumph in making a switch back that I probably would have hardly blinked at with all of my gears. I had a few moments when I stopped dead and tipped over, unwilling to give up on pedaling.
Stopping to catch my breath, I felt the cold air freeze my eyelashes while I watched the sun shine through the trees. Squirrels were chittering and my sweat froze to my back. Since getting on the trail, I hadn’t seen a soul.
At some point, I had resorted to pushing my bike up a few spots. To be fair, this might have happened anyway, but I am totally blaming the derailleur cable.
When the Hut finally came into view, I met some skiers coming down.
“Do they still have cookies?” I asked.
“Oh yeah! They are really good ones too!”
Sweet. I pedaled towards the Hut, stuck my bike in the snow, and took a picture. Because…I like to take pictures of my bike leaning on stuff.
Then I got my damned cookie.
Molasses, pumpkin, chocolate chip, in case you were wondering. SO GOOD.
I wish I got all 4 that were left.
But no, I enjoyed my 1 cookie with some water and it didn’t take long for me to get pretty chilly, even though the Hut is plenty warm. My clothes were drenched with sweat, which made me think I should pack an extra dry base layer to change into for next time.
Before I rode down, I headed to the overlook.
I was pretty excited for the ride down (Newton’s for those of you who are wondering – I tried Oak Knoll, but I immediately sunk 3-4 inches, so I backed off and changed route). It was easy to go fast as everything was so smooth, and a few of the turns did have nice flow.
The downside was that I was a popsicle by the time I made it down to the bottom. I had to stop a few times to warm my hands (next time I need to remember hand warmers in the Moosemitts for the ride down).
I ran into a friend on a fat bike and told him where I had been, about the awesome cookie, and jumped on the Gauge to ride back to my truck. I felt all tingly, you know, that feeling you get from doing something you really love. Happy with my 12 mile day with 2 gears and some decent climbing, I threw my bike in the truck and headed home.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Thank you to the awesome guys at Mathieu’s Cycle for fixing my bike and getting me back on the trails so quickly!! You guys are the BEST!