Singing Out Loud at 40 MPH

There are a few times every year that I get that "runner's high" from an outside adventure. On vacation, I decided to take the challenge of climbing Look Rock Road. I had first seen this challenge when we took kids to the Great Smoky Mountain Institute at Tremont in May. During our trip, we took students to the top of Look Rock to see the beautiful vistas of the area, reflect on their trip, and connect with nature in a new way. During the drive to the top, we saw a number of bikers attempting the challenge. One of my teacher said to me, "I bet you wish you were out there on your bike." She spoke the truth. Once I knew that I was returning to that same outdoor playground with my family in June, the planning for the ride began. It would take a lot of things falling into place to allow me the space to make the attempt, but it worked, and about 3:25 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20, I took the first pedal stroke toward the top. The sign in front of me said Look Rock 11 miles. It was 11 miles uphill, and I was excited about the opportunity. I remembered that the first three miles were the most difficult part, both because of the grade and the need to get myself in a riding rhythm. There is no riding uphill for three miles in Saint Louis let alone 11 miles. The first three miles were hard, but I was in a surprising good rhythm going about 7.6 mph the entire first section. My legs were burning, but I knew that there was some relief ahead. The center section has a downhill and flat section coupled with some climbing. This section was a nice mix as I prepared for the last section. The last section was rated as highly as the first three miles, and it was definitely hard. Both of these section were rated as Cat. 3 climbs. Tough stuff for us flat landers in Saint Louis. As I approached the top, I remembered a number of landmarks from my trip in May that propelled me to the top. 10.41 miles complete in 58 minutes and 12 seconds. I took a few pictures, stretched, and then started the decent. I bombed the descent. I hadn't had an opportunity to descent at that speed for that long since Independence Pass during the Ride of the Rockies. I spent most of the descent at 35 mph with a top speed of 40.1 mph. During the descent, I started singing at the top of my lungs. It was an incredible liberating moment that is hard to put into words. I have always loved my bicycle, and it is moments like this that have me dedicated to providing these opportunities to kids by getting them outside. I wish that each of you could been there when it was over to see that look and feel that energy that was oozing from me.