Cycling is an exercise in progressive insanity. No matter where you're at, there's always somebody who's just that little bit crazier than you are, no, not the total whackos that do things that are ridiculous, but just that next little step...
It all starts with riding an hour on the flattest roads that you have around, and finding that pretty challenging. And maybe one day, you ride for two hours, and it wipes you out, but you're happy you did it.
And then meet somebody who is doing a charity ride, and you think "maybe I can ride 50 miles" at once - it's pretty intimidating, but you ride some more, and then you finish it, and you're happy, but dead.
The next year, you decide that you'll do a century. This is a real milestone, and you can tell its a real milestone by the reaction of the people you mention it to. "In a day?" they say. And you do the century, but you're slow, and while you finish, you don't have a lot of fun.
The next year, you do a bit better in the century, and then you do a multi-day ride.
And then you start riding with a group - not a hardcore group, but a group that just likes to ride. You get a new bike - a fast one - and suddenly that century isn't a goal event but a training ride on the way to a double. That two-hour ride that used to be a goal event is now the minimum - you don't leave the house for less than two hours. And you start adding hills to your rides *on purpose*. You even start up a website devoted to hills.
You start looking for the hilly organized rides. You do one, two, three, four, and in there you throw in a double century.
And then you decide that RAMROD looks like fun. It's 143 miles with 10,000 feet of climbing.
A long time ago at my job, I met a co-worker who was into cycling, and he told me about RAMROD. I had driven the route that he rode, and I thought that he was absolutely bonkers.
And now, in three weeks, I will also be officially bonkers.
The scary part is that as I've progressed, I still know people who are just marginally more crazy than I am, and that makes me seriously worried.