Finding CHarlie

October 7, 2011

Finding CHarlie

October 7, 2011

Switzerland is a dream vacation or home for most cyclists. Unfortunately, I haven't been cycling as much as I'd like because cycling gives me the crazies. Seriously. When I exercise very hard, my heart rate goes up, naturally, just like everyone else's. But unlike everyone else's, it doesn't come down after I stop riding-- for days. Then the insomnia sets in and a downward spiral of sickness follows.  Don't bother Google diagnosing this. I've been pursuing several paths with doctors and I still have lots of other tests to go through. But I refuse to let it stop me so I indulge my passion two or three times per week, staying within an easy heart rate.

That being said, it's a challenge to find any easy flat areas to ride in Switzerland. Imagine that! Luckily I'm true to my astrological sign, the goat. I love to climb.  I'm not a particularly great climber. In fact, if I'm not training for something, I'm usually the proud lantern rouge. I mean, why rush these things, right? Especially when you get to see scenes like this ancient town above, Romainmotier.

Nearly twelve years ago, Mr. Wild Dingo took me on a cycling date up one of Santa Cruz's challenging climbs, Mountain Charlie, a 3-mile, 1,800-foot climb with three very steep sections. After the third steep step, I pulled my bike over and told Mr. Wild Dingo that I was about to toss my cookies. And even though he almost made me vomit on one of our first dates, I still married him.  To this day he still thinks I was furious with him. True, barfing doesn't make an ideal date for either person, but what he didn't know is that I'm a masochist and anything that makes me want to retch is worth doing again and again.

Over the years, I rode Mt. Charlie weekly, using it as interval training and pretty much as my go-to climb. Charlie also holds good memories as it's where Mr. Wild Dingo proposed to me on one autumn evening, on the bike of course. Because I didn't hurl when he asked, he took it as a yes and before you know it, we're married.

So when we came to Switzerland, one of the first climbs Mr. Wild Dingo took me up was Col du Marchairuz. I can't tell you how badly it sucked, even for a goat like me. The climb from Biere begins with a complete mind f*ck: a long steep 10% grade section with the illusion that it's more like a 3% grade. I swear whenever I ride it, it feels like I'm pedaling in peanut butter or at best going backwards. It's the kind of climb that you can't ride gently. You pretty much have to ride it fast in order to minimize the time spent in the mind-f*ck . And it wouldn't be so bad because I don't mind suffering on the bike. But I really hate the days of insomnia that follow when I ride too hard.

So I avoid riding the Col du Marchairuz and stick to whatever rolling climbs I can find around here. Like the ride in the photo above, in the Rolle vineyards. Which you have to admit, isn't exactly an eye-sore.

I have to tell you Internet, that Mr. Wild Dingo is not a nice man on the bike. He's inpatient and doesn't see the point of lolly-gagging or coffee-shop riding. To him, unless you're suffering, you're just wasting time. It's funny: when we ride together, I'm the one doing all the suffering. And he's the one always threatening to put my heart rate monitor on his bike just to make sure I'm suffering enough. In our 12 years together, I've only experienced two or three precious moments where he admitted that I punished him on the ride. Usually because he's jet lagged. But hey, I'll take what I can get.  And yet, I'm still married to him.

But riding with him lately is out of the question. Because neither of us are able to suffer each other's whining.

Still, I miss climbing. So a few weekends ago, I decided to ride the Col du Mollendruz, the climb parallel to the Marchairuz and connected to it by the Valleé de Joux. A 2,400-foot climb from the start of our house, it was surprisingly gentle with just a few steep steps that lasted just the right amount of time. It was invigorating to be able to climb that high again.

At the top, I found plenty of mountain bike and snow shoe trails. It was a perfect climb.  Here's a pretty video of the exact ride but shot from a car.  The trees obscure the views of the country, but it looks like I found my Mountain CHarlie in Switzerland. Now I just have to cultivate the perfect training plan so I can open a can of whoop-ass on Mr. Wild Dingo without getting the crazies.

Because Internet, that is true love.

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6 comments on “Finding CHarlie”

  1. Heehee. I really can't contain my giggling. One of my first dates with the spouse was in the ICU (he was the patient, not me) after the surgery to fix his broken neck (I was not involved in the broken neck incident). Many of our dates/married adventures have included physical pain (not the nudge-nudge-wink-wink kind, but the ER kind) and have frequently ended up with one or the other of us carrying 'post-op' instructions and making a trip to the pharmacy. Because we're fun like that! 😉 And we consider any adventure that doesn't end in a hospital visit a real bonus!

    When we ride (which hasn't been this summer because of the whole cancer/blood clot/blood thinner thing), I am usually the one who has the astronomical HRs. (However, I don't redline until 188 bpm - well, I didn't when I was riding every day...) However, 2 years ago, the spouse was getting chronic bronchitis - he'd elevate his HR (the mountains of Utah don't have much in the way of flats, either) past a certain point, and it was pretty much a matter of time before he got pneumonia. Since we couldn't avoid the hills without an hour drive, we dropped our pace so he could keep his HR in the non-pneumonia-inducing range (and I stayed out of the punishing HR ranges). So my once mountain-goat-leave-me-in-the-dust-on-the-wicked-hill-climbs spouse doesn't leave me in the dust so much.

    What's my point? I dunno. I had one when I started this comment, but since then, this comment has been deleted twice as my darling dogs have jumped on the keyboard. (Sweeties. I love them so.) Oh yeah. My point? You and your scenery pictures suck. So there. 😀

    -Dr. Liz (who now has to go beat the dogs...)

  2. Oh, everyone needs to gag a lolly every now and again! 🙂

    Thank you again for sharing all these wonderful pictures.

  3. I think you just need to put some inconspicuous weights on MWD's bike and let him have at it.

    Nice first date...

    Mango Momma

  4. What Mango said. Maybe you could do something to the bike gears, too, to maximize his efforts.

    Jed & Abby

  5. What a great story about your first date and his proposal. So romantic in a . . . . masochistic way, which I am soooo not. Vomiting is like at the bottom of my list for romantic dates, well it's actually a phobia of mine lol.

    I hope they can figure out the heart rate/insomnia thing so you can enjoy your climbs without the misery afterward. 🙂

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