This weekend was the ABC camping trip to Thompsons Lake. It was a Friday to Sunday affair, but today I am just going to focus on the ride up to the campsite.
Disclaimer: I am a commuter; I like to ride to places. I am not the type of person who can just go out and ride big loops, just to ride. I ride to the library or Hudson River Coffee house, and sometimes even to my work when I am feeling energetic. I hate hills. I avoid going down State Street like no tomorrow, and when I am leading a ride with ABC you know I won’t take you up a hill if I can help it. I am also a slow rider; someone who isn’t in a rush and likes to enjoy the ride.
Now, that you know where I am coming from you can imagine the terror that filled me when everyone wanted to ride up to Thompsons Lake. It involves not just hill, but what I would call a small mountain. There was no way around it; I was going to have to ride up Thatcher Park Road. My only other choice was to drive up, and while there were people who did drive up to go camping with us, I just couldn’t do it. Therefore, I had to make it up the mountain on my pretty little bike.
For courage I bought some gloves so my hands wouldn’t hurt as bad and a new jersey that I thought I looked cute in. Going on this ride with me was Claire, aka Mom, and without her I don’t think I would have made it. Google maps says it takes 2 hours by bike to make it up to Thompsons lake. Maybe for someone who like hills, not for someone like me. So we left early, like 3 o-clock, since I knew it was going to take me forever. Ken who still had to leave was going to leave at five, and I knew I might not make it before dark if I left at five.
So off we went, heading towards the small mountain in the distance. We passed through Voorheesville, and we hit a small hill, which to me was torture. My goal was to make it up without walking. I did that, but I did have to stop. All that was running around in my head was “that really wasn’t even a big hill.” It was just a small one to get my blood going. It took some time, but then we were there at the bottom of Thatcher Park Road. We were standing there talking so I could rest and try to get my courage up.
To be completely honest standing at the bottom, I didn’t think I could make it up that hill. I had seen others go up it, and I really thought that they were crazy. It just wasn’t on my to-do list or even can-do list. Yet, I made it that far and had to keep going. Off we went. I knew that this was going to be hard. At the very beginning there was a jogger heading up the hill and I tried to keep up with him. I kept my pace, and then he took two steps in front of me leaving me behind. Claire passed me and kept pace with the jogger. Seeing her go up the hill was inspiring. I thought maybe I could do this.
My eyes stayed on her backpack as I slowly climbed. Finally I had to stop and take a breath along with some water. Then back on my bike I went. I focused on each telephone pole and mail box. Bit by bit I made it along. When I needed to stop, I stopped. I didn’t get discouraged or feel rushed. I had friends above me on the mountain and Ken below me who hadn’t left yet. My goal was to not get passed by him. Finally, I saw Claire waiting for me next to a turn off to make sure that I went the right way. I stopped and relaxed for a moment while she spoke on the phone to Bert and John who were already at the campsite. I really needed that moment of just standing there. It kept me on my feet. That break did turn into a pit stop as I waited for my heart to stop pounding. Then off we went again heading towards the park and the lookout.
Getting to the lookout where I could see the starting point was awesome. I felt like I could do almost anything. Staring out over Albany, and knowing that I got up there by bicycle was something that everyone who rides should experience. I understood why people would ride up that freaking hill, and that they weren’t crazy; just really really smart. The rest of the ride to the campsite was awesome. I was tired but filled with joy. Bert and John rode out to meet us, the laughing and talking really kept me going. We had to stop to take photos at the sign to the Thompson’s Lake and I believe that part of me was in shock. I couldn’t believe that I actually made it up there on my bicycle.
It was awesome, and I thank everyone who has helped me get to that point. Especially, Claire who would tell me stories as we rode so I had something to think about besides how far we still had to go.
Written by Toni Cameron