Wrapped up the ride today at about 7:22pm, just a smidge over 12 hours; but, that's not bad considering Terry and I took a side trip to Whiteman AFB east of Warrensburg, and worked against a headwind for most of the return trip. I'll have to look back at my time from 2009, the last time I rode this route, but - the Biggest win for me today was personal vindication on Hammond Road's monster "wall" of a hill.
I honestly expected that I had grossly overrated this hill five years ago, the byproduct of having to walk it. The real reason for walking it was likely buried in dehydration, malnutrition, body weight, lack of training, wrong technique...whatever. Returning to the Knob Noster route, though, has reminded me that these hills in rural Missouri are still pretty serious... But not impossible. Don't sell yourself short, as I had. You should ride this route, because I'd forgotten how scenic and awesome it really is. That said, bring your legs - the first and last 7 miles are a test, and really, a compact or a triple is a good idea if you want to salvage anything resembling cadence. With my 39x27 maximum climbing gear, I had to grunt and zig-zag the grade a couple times to prevent wheel lift and traction issues... but I made it up without unclipping. Yeesssss!!
The rest of the route is fine; it really is just one, single, solitary hill on Hammond Rd. that will awaken the senses and challenge the spirit... But do not let it stop you. If you walk, you walk. My biggest failing, perhaps, was not allowing myself to be okay with that fact. I chose to make it a vendetta, and while I'm happy to have slain my own personal dragon today, I tend to carry chips on my shoulders which really shouldn't be there in the first place. The whole vengeful drama is over. It's weird, because I feel more relaxed about my riding suddenly. Accomplishment does that.
Now... What next?
The usual ride report and photos to come! Stay tuned!