Should I keep moving forward? Suddenly I was questioning my direction and feeling completely lost. My mind was a constant knot of questioning as I tried to get my bearings. When in doubt, up.
It was “the big climb” around Mojacar. The visiting pro teams did their training camp testing there, the Strava KOM was highly contested and, more importantly, it was exactly what I needed. Ten kilometres of climbing would be long enough, I figured. Long enough to feel the work in my legs. Long enough to slip into that meditative climbing rhythm. Long enough to clear my head. “Bedar,” I said to myself over and over, memorizing the name on the map so I would recognize the turn off on the road. I had planned a simple route: Bedar and back.
Away from the coast, I followed the main road inland through Mojacar, through Turre, past the broccoli fields and the car dealership in the middle of nowhere with the Barbie pink stretch limousine. After forty minutes of quiet rolling roads, I saw the sign to Bedar directing me to turn left.
Left I went, unsure of when the climb would start but knowing it would be soon. You can check out a climb on Strava before you ride and get an idea from other riders but until you experience a climb first hand you don’t know exactly what it will be like. I dipped under the highway and then the road kicked up. My legs weren’t quite prepared for the quick onset of 7, 9, and even 10% gradient. I jammed my gears right down to their easiest combination but that didn’t lighten the workload enough to stop my heart rate from reacting. Did I really want to ride this climb? It was steeper than I expected; it was harder than it seemed.
The initial kick was only about 500 meters followed by some flat and even a short downhill. The shock wore off in my legs and my heart rate settled, just in time to start climbing again. I started up a more palatable gradient but it was still steep enough to force me back into my easy gears.
As the kilometres passed by, my body relaxed into the rhythmic turn of the pedals and, in turn, my mind cleared. The daily distractions, the to-do lists, the noise, one by one, hairpin after corner, I rode away from it all. Yet, as the clutter cleared, still the weight of the unsolved, the anxiety and uncertainty of what urged me to seek a climb, sat stubbornly at the back of my mind.
The climb was variable. Steep kickers, hairpins, welcome sections of flat, gentle corners all complied into an entertainingly twisty road that I blindly followed through the small town of Bedar and beyond towards the summit of the small mountain. I started to feel the demand in my legs more and more, pulling my focus solely to the physical task at hand. The heavier my legs felt from work, the lighter my mind became. I wasn’t at the top yet but I got what I had come for.
I stopped at the summit, immediately feeling my legs relax. All I could think about though was the bumpy landscape between me and the blue line of sea in the distance. That was the thing about climbing for me, it was always worth the effort to get a clear perspective. Without a second thought, I clipped in to head for home, knowing exactly where I was going.