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Suffer and Recover tour (part 1)

As usual, if I have the chance to sleep in, I will. 10:30 and I’m rolling out of bed. As I shut the AC off, I take a peek outside to see the damp roads. Is today going to be a good day to ride the “Suffer and Recover tour”? Hmmm... Well, let me go out and see how it feels. Around 75* and 100% humidity. That feel of “dead air” is present. You know the type. You take a deep breath and don’t feel replenished. It’s a good thing I forgot to wash my riding clothes cause that will give me an hour to think about what the hell I’m doing!
After making an unplanned trip, I returned home and figured I’d give it a shot. If I’m not feeling up to it, I can always come back into the valley. For those of you whom I never told about this ride: It’s a climb/descend the whole way on the East side of the Lackawanna valley. Well, time to suffer.

It’s already 2pm and I’m just starting. I don’t know why, but I have this song “Sideways” stuck in my head. It’s on repeat too. I head out as a light rain is falling and the skies are dark gray overhead. The Suffering begins a quarter mile from my house. It’s a climb up Moosic Lake road (sr.247). The climb continues for 4 miles with an elevation gain of 1,230ft. I got to the top in 2-2. This being my third road ride of the year, I did better than I expected!

Ok, one down, three to go! I rode to Mount Cobb and went left to Cortez road. This section has some rolling hills. This section has some short climbs, short descents and fast flat sections that stretch out, four miles. It’s a great feeling after that climb when you’re doing 27 on a flat road in 3-9 and you’re in the drops pedaling around 75. The down side is just that... Down! I lost 570 feet that I just climbed on the other side! I know what’s coming up and I don‘t like it. I keep asking myself if I feel up to it. Well, either way I’m climbing out from somewhere. I make the left turn and put it in Granny (Yep, I have a triple!).

Archbald on the backside is .82 miles long of straight uphell... Umm, I mean uphill. You ask yourself how bad is .82 miles of climbing? Well the other side is 3.5 miles down. Put that into perspective! So I start climbing “The wall” in 1-5 and soon shift to 1-2 and let it there for a couple hundred inches and then determine it’s better in 1-1. This is the point when I look straight in front of my wheel and keep saying “Don’t look up.”. I straight lined it and made it to the top quicker than I thought I would. Just as the grade starts to level out some, I put it into the middle ring in the front knowing I still have some more climbing in front of me. As I reach the top I figured I’d stop and mark it on the GPS and take a pic. While I’m at it I had a granola and some Gatorade. I’m still listening to the same damn song! The wind is picking up and I have a long decent of 4 miles ahead of me... “Recover!”

Maxing out at 52 mph on a road ripped up from the recent flooding we had was wild. Some of the roads are only half a lane wide! Being in the drops and doing 40 most of the way is a rush that has the adrenaline scale tipping. The sides of the road are completely gone. Some washout ditches are 3 feet deep. The edge of the road disappears and you feel like you might be on a part of the road with nothing under you. Rocks strewn along the side of the roads and Graffiti sprayed by Penn DOT go buzzing by as you’re doing 40 in the drops! 45, 47, 50,51.... 52 as I zip under the Casey highway and back into the valley.

I’m feeling like I should “Suffer” /continue. I take a right and go up through Archbald, Jermyn, Mayfield, Childs, and out into Carbondolay. Pretty flat in here for a couple miles until I get to L`Alpe d`Huez (aka Salem mtn.). This is a steady climb for 3.25 miles and a climb of 1,090ft. As I’m just getting to the crossover of the Casey again, it starts to rain. It’s those big, cold drops coming down. I get the chills for a second and feel a little better. The rain continued for a couple minutes. Just enough to get the road wet and release the heat from the road and that unique smell of water on burning asphalt. (These feelins won’t go away...) Damn-it that tune is still going through my head! (They’ve been knockin’ me sideways...) Ok, keep on moving at a steady pace... The washout has affected traffic on Salem too. I think there were 5 cars the whole time I was climbing. I got to the top and thought it would be a good time to reload. By the way, when I got to the top the roads were dry. Either it was that hot, or I’m that slow! Back in the drops and approaching 50 again. “Recover”.

8 miles to Waymart and 30 miles done. I’m on more rolling hills and beating the clouds. The rain has held off since L`Alpe d`Huez and the wind has increased now that I’m going through the country with open fields on both sides. The hay is blowing in the wind the same direction I’m riding. It feels as if it’s reaching out and pushing on my back as I’m hitting 32 on the flats and gliding. Thinking of the past rides I’ve done on these roads makes the ride seem fun, as I think about the only reason I really traveled this road in the past was for a couple things I loved... Riding and golf! Coming to the end of Waymart, it hit me that I didn’t have to ride Rt. 6 back out, but I could do Fairview rd. past the prison instead. It’s the same climb, but less trafficated (< I just invented that word) by far. This might be the last climb of the day. 550 ft gained to High Knob on Rt. 6. I’m getting low on water and didn’t bring any money with me, so I guess it’s time to return. Once in Carbondale I stayed on the main streets to get back to Jessup.

By the end I climbed Moosic Lake rd., Archbald, Salem and Fairview rd. for a total of 5,062 feet and finished 54.2 miles in 4 hours flat. Average was 13.4 which for me was 1 mph faster than my riding last year without all the climbing. I hope that I can get back into road riding enough to do my dream “Suffer and Recover Century” which would include climbing 106 and doing hills to Elk mountain and coming back towards Dickson. Would it break 10,000 feet of vertical? We’d have to find out! Part 2 would be the West side of what I have planned.

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