MOUNTAIN CLIMBING 101
Shadow. I haven't see this thing in months. In California, it followed me everywhere.
Okay, so this road does not look that mean in this picture. In fact, if looks flat. And beautiful. It is not. Well, maybe it's kinda beautiful. But it's mean. Did you know that this road is actually ALIVE and it LAUGHS at you? It's true! California residents pay taxes to support mocking pavement. I would not lie to you about this.
Anyway, this is a 7% grade, which is not difficult to ride your bike on if you're doing it for a wee bit, but it's very difficult to ride your bike on for 2 hours. The feeling you get while climbing a 7% grade for 2 hours is extreme tension in your lower back and an annoyingly persistent revelation that you are bat shit crazy.
For reference, you should know that the climb up Palomar is about 5400 feet. The height of the Sears Tower is 1,705 feet (including antennas).
Here's the breakdown of the climb from my perspective:
At 3000 feet, I was all, "Hot shit. I'm halfway to the top."
At 4000 feet, I was like, "Ohmygod, ow, ow, ow." And then I was like, "How is it possible I am staying upright? I am going only 4 MPH!" The answer to this question, alert Power Love reader, is that I was ALL OVER THE ROAD. Truly. If I left a trail behind me, it would've looked like a snake slithering from one side of the road to the other.
At 5000 feet, I was aware that I had only 400 feet to go, and yet 400 feet seemed equivalent to the circumference of the earth. This made me cry.
At the top of the mountain, there is a restaurant. Ma's Kitchen. Or maybe it's Mother's Kitchen. Or something. Something maternal followed by "kitchen." There isn't a sign that specifically points you to the maternal eatery. There is, however, a sign that points you to the blandly named "Restaurant/Lodge," so I, in all my crying, lactic acid-filled, oxygen deprivation glory, followed that sign. Apparently, the Restaurant/Lodge is Very Far Away and in a land accessed by a road that runs at a 9% grade (which is far more painfuller than a wimpy 7% grade), and this road is narrow and cold and decorated with piles of snow. Once I got to a point on this road where I felt like I was breathing through a straw, it occurred to me that perhaps I was going the wrong way. As every serious cyclist knows, this is a phenomenon called Suck Assery.
Eventually, I found my way to lower elevations and to the aforementioned maternal eatery, where I had the best fried egg sandwich every created.
And that, boys and girls, is the story of how the Moors conquered Corsica.