Cyclists ride along a field of blooming canola, which, for about a month every spring, light up the Spanish landscape with their neon-yellow hue. (Dina Mishev/For the Washington Post)
I didn’t think physics and the laws of gravity allowed this, but it is possible to go 3 mph – slower than a motivated pedestrian – on a bicycle without falling over. Had someone told me this before I started riding up the nearby mountain, Rocacorba, a classic and amazingly steep road bike ride near the northern Spanish city of Girona, I would not have believed them. But, grinding my way up the mountain, both my Garmin GPS watch and cycling computer mounted on my rental bike’s handlebars – I’m so incredulous, I have to check both – agree that my riding speed is, in fact, apace with a sleepwalking snail.
My trajectory up the road, which ascends approximately 2,600 vertical feet over about seven miles, is far from straight. To keep myself from tipping over, I’m constantly adjusting my steering and body position, which results in a path that “wobbly” barely begins to describe. About four miles into the climb, shortly after the road goes from steep to stupidly steep, I think toppling over onto the pitted pavement might be less painful than grinding up it.
Even in the granniest of granny gears, it’s impossible for me to pedal smoothly up pitches with grades approaching, and sometimes exceeding, 13%. I feel sharp, stabby pains in both knees. Road rash […]