By now I have enough experience to recognize this self doubt for what it is: my knee jerk reaction when facing the unknown. My imagination turns on itself. They will find me lost and desiccated years later, having never reached the top, stick me in the ground and mark the spot with a sign that reads, "Failed Cyclist."
Which brings me to an even bigger fear: humiliation. And that's what keeps me going. Because what I've learned about these rides is that endless as the hills seem to be? Regrets last much longer. Oh, and there's one more thing: there are no other options.
There is no stop sign of course. And even if there were, the problem is that Mulholland, even though it traces the spine of the mountains, is often just as hilly as the canyons. And the downhills offer no respite, because the pavement is in such rotten shape, you can't just coast. There are cars, there are potholes and cracks - you have to hang on for dear life, ride the brakes and navigate very carefully.
Which begs the question: just what are the property taxes doing in those hills? And does anybody pay them? Because if so, they sure don't go for public transportation - or for roads.
Meanwhile, it seems another rider, G and I have pulled ahead of the group. From time to time, I see him taking out a handkerchief. I remark to him that I am the only cyclist I know in NY who uses Kleenex. "What do the rest do?" He asks.
I hate to tell him.
We take a couple of breaks at scenic turnouts, waiting for the others to catch up.
Relieved, I turn to G and say "Wow, that was amazing. Next time though, I'm going to see if I can find a ride with Seniors"
He pauses and looks at me wryly. "We are Seniors," he says.
And so they are. As I say, comparing cycling in NY vs LA? Fuhgeddaboudit.