Tri-ing in the Holy Land

The ramblings of a struggling triathlete in Israel

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Location: Israel

I'm the mother of 3, a teacher and a couch potato turned triathlete.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What I didn't do

No, I haven't disappeared -- just not spending all that much time on my computer.

Today's ride was to "Ma'ale Akrabim" ("Scorpion's Ascent"). We drove to Dimona and from there, we rode about 30 km to the top of the ascent. I took one look down and said, "NO!" For probably the first time ever, it wasn't the climb that scared me. Yes, that looked really hard, but I figured I could do it slowly and the absolute worst thing that could happen would be that someone would come pick me up. No, it wasn't the climb -- it was the way down. The rode was twisting and steep. Other riders were complaining about how much their hands hurt from holding the brakes. Then, they told me that the second half (which I couldn't see) was much worse than the first -- that convinced me. Here's a picture from Google Earth of the second part (and note that this is a 200 meter descent over about 2.5 twisting km on a road with lots of stones and cracked pavement):

That seemed a bit beyond my bike-handling capabilities and I didn't feel like dying today.

What I did do was ride down to the bottom in the car, then go halfway up and ride to the top from there. Here's what the top section looked like (ignore the straight line -- that's SportTracks trying to deal with a missing chunk of the route -- the way up is the squiggly line):

This, by the way, was not easy, either. I stopped once on the way up, rested a few seconds and then got back on my bike and finished.

There were one or two short but nasty climbs on the way to the major climb and on the way back, so overall, even without doing the whole hill, it was a decent ride and I felt it in my legs.

Am I sorry that I didn't do the whole thing? I'm not sure. I'm definitely not sorry that I didn't ride down -- that would have been more of a test of my nerves than of my athletic ability (and, of course, a test of my bike-handling skills, but that wasn't really the way I wanted to test those). When we got to the bottom, it was hot and we were running out of time. The team would have had to wait for me for quite a while and that would have made me uncomfortable (we still had a 30 km ride back to where we'd left the bike cart and the cars). The road was very chopped up and it would have felt more like mountain biking than road biking. The hairpin turns looked very scary, even going uphill (in fact, there was one hairpin turn on the part that I did do and I almost lost my balance on that one). I did a shorter climb and finished it, even though it wasn't easy (and I also rode the whole 30 km back to Dimona), so I didn't wimp out entirely (and I know that I can get to the top from that point, which is a good thing to remember for next time). Overall, the ride was a challenging and satisfactory experience. I can't honestly say what kind of experience it would have been if I'd done the whole climb, although I do know that I would have been very stressed out about getting to the top quickly so that everyone could go home. It's been over 12 hours and I don't feel any sense of disappointment, so I guess I'm not all that sorry.

There are still plenty of hills out there for me to climb.

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