I know the roads in the area near my house pretty well, and when I say “pretty well” I mean that I have developed meaningful, long-term relationships with the potholes and storm drains line the routes I ride on a consistent basis.
Many people don’t know this, but I am subscribed to every bike group email on the Eastern Seaboard (Rich, you need to ease up on the emails with all the links to pages about tire pressure—we’ve heard enough, Rich!), so I was intrigued when I saw an email from fellow Jersy-ite John W. proposing a new type of ride. He suggested that we climb a local hill over and over again until we had climbed the vertical distance of Alpe d’Huez, which is 3,422 feet of up.
What John was suggesting a discount version of Everesting—a bike-based cry for help made possible through the combination of technology and a lack of meaningful life relationships where riders climb the vertical distance of Mt Everest by going up and down the same stupid hill for about 99 consecutive hours. It’s a profoundly pointless endeavor, but that doesn’t stop people around the world from finding a local hill to hate and transforming into Bike Sisyphuses.
Naturally, my interest was piqued. At my age, it’s nice to find something new to try. The majority of new things I get to try at my age are experiences like a colonoscopy or the removal of a dicey mole—so I’m always very excited to try something new that doesn’t involve a copay. So I decided to join John, if for no other reason than for the novelty of turning a hill that I’ve come to know intimately into a new and exciting climbing adventure.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that it was quite surprising that John proposed this uphill escapade, because John does not “like to climb”. And I’m quoting John when I say that. He really doesn’t like to climb—like, “let’s avoid riding over that overpass” doesn’t like to climb. So part of my motivation for riding a New Jersey hill until it turned into a French hill was to see if John would actually finish the ride.
Now the thing about “Alping” is that it is a lot like hills repeats, in fact it is exactly like hill repeats. We needed to go up Goffle Hill (plus a turn onto the 13% groin-punch at the end known as Fairview—John’s idea, not mine) eight times to get our vertical feat accomplished. The key to this task would be pacing, so we shoved off and ground out eight climbs. We didn’t stop, we didn’t err from our route. I climbed a bit faster than John, so we reunited at the bottom of Goffle before each ascent, and we took about 12 minutes to complete each lap.
A quick bit of math shows that it would take us 63 laps and about 15 hours to Everest Goffle Road at that pace—something that I will not, under any circumstances, attempt. John, on the other hand, went out and did a Ventoux ride a few days later, because I don’t even know him anymore. And he’s planning a 10,000 foot challenge for the coming weekend. Meanwhile, I will be retiring to my basement to build a John-shaped trap, so I can snare him and get him the helps he so desperately needs.