Lingering ominously in the back of my mind as I pedaled around the White Rim were the ever approaching Shafer switchbacks. I knew that they’d bleed me dry. I knew that the 32×16 I had on the bike was simply too tall for my legs and for the impossible grade. And yet…I had hope teasingly loitering in my heart and in my head.
But hope is so easily dashed. And when I rounded the corner shortly after Mussleman Arch and there before me stood the vertical wall I cowered quietly, knowing that the good time I had been making was about to fall off the table.
I tried in vain to pedal up the long approach. I caught one last, desperate glimpse of Bart and Kenny, high above me on the opening switchback. I glanced at my watch and odometer, terrified of how long the next 2 miles were going to last.
I walked nearly every foot of that cursed road. With an impatient aggravation I pushed up the grade, one step at a time, trying vigorously to keep my speed above 3 miles per hour.
Never before has there been a more shameful Walk of Shame.
At least, that is how I felt. Perhaps that is because I had the legs to ride the climb. I had the legs! But it was impossible to turn the cranks over with the ridiculous gear I had chosen. And in fact, the gear was just tall enough to keep me off the bike. Never have I been so vexed. And in the end I am forced to wonder if the tall gear, which was fairly comfortable throughout much of the day was indeed very beneficial? Had I been able to ride even 70% of Shafer I think I would have cut 30 minutes off my total time.
But then, perhaps I would have lost that time anyway while spinning a lower gear out on the rim.
Hoofing Shafer in its entirety, even after 70 miles, was an utterly ignominious end to what was a difficult, if yet edifying day in the desert.
Exit Question: What is your ‘best’ Walk of Shame?