At least that’s where I assumed we were….we rode through Hell's Gate which I assume leads to Hell's Doorstep...
Not long after we started the road turned left and we began our first climb of the day…..and boy was that a surprise. As is my style, I had totally failed to train and instead of looking at the route guide to see just how unprepared I was, I took the ignorance is bliss attitude and just took off with the group.
From here it was a fun, fast, perfectly paved one way road downhill to the valley floor and then the trek north towards Hells Gate. I think the worst part of riding in the desert is that without one single tree to block your view, you can see for miles. Unfortunately, in a mostly flat, uninhabited area where you can see where you’re headed miles away, it seems like no matter how long you ride, you never get closer.
This fact went from boringly apparent to painfully apparent once we turned off Hwy 190 and headed up towards Hell’s Gate proper. From the bottom of the valley to the rest area at the top is a 10 mile climb and you can see the tent at the top from just past the first turn at the bottom…..it’s a white spot at the very top that no matter how long I pedaled, never seemed to come any closer….
Finally though, after what seemed like an eternity of pedaling uphill with no respite, (is that what purgatory is?) we came around the final bend and were at the official turn around point for the metric century. Hell’s Gate…..as I stood there on Hell’s doorstep, I looked back at the valley below in all it’s desolate glory and agreed again, just how intelligent I was for doing the metric and not the full century. (Bob, evidently has either less brains or is just plain tougher than I am as he was doing the entire route)
The 10 miles up of course resulted in 10 miles back down and it was awesome! Unfortunately, as all good things must come to an end, the downhill ended and we were faced with a long, flat grind back to the start. Thankfully, Bill and Gail on the tandem took the lead and the rest of us (yes, a tandem in a headwind develops a large following) fell in behind, put our heads down and made circles as best we could.