I’m so happy that I’ve finally conquered Maarat’s Uphill. At the foot of the climb, Mike O accelerated and took the lead. So I stood up on the pedals and hammered a bit to get a hold of his wheel.

I made him set the pace. Although I was feeling great, I told myself to conserve my strength for the second half of the climb.

When we came upon the first major switchback, he took the steeper inner line while I took the knee-friendlier outer line. He came out of the switchback a few meters ahead of me, but that probably took a toll on him. After around 20 meters from the curve he stopped to rest.

One part of me was saying that I better stop, too. I’ve always stopped at one point of the climb before. The other half urged me to go further.

I pushed on.

Riding at my own pace, I wanted to find out how far I can go. King passed me a few meters after, but that didn’t matter. I didn’t feel as tired as before, so I went into my rhythm. When the climb leveled off a bit, I shifted one gear higher. And when I realized that I can go up one more gear, I clicked on the shifter. I was tempted to stand up but I keep reminding myself to save my strength.

I could sense that one of the riders from Globe was trying to catch up so I accelerated a bit and did some spinning. On the last curve, he took the inner line and fell off the pace.

At the peak, there were no people cheering nor barriers to stop them. Nonetheless, it felt really good to conquer my personal Ventoux.

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