Hunker Down

Cycling Motivation on a Climb

I will swallow my climb like a large pill.  I eat the road like a slurp of spaghetti.  The ribbon of pavement is a conveyor belt shoveling the foothills down my throat as I approach the main entree.   The sudden gradient slows my chewing.  I click into a lower gear.

The mist obstructs the peak. As if I could peek at it anyway with the way this road winds. The wind betrays the uneven shape of the mountains as it throws its weight against me in gusts. I guess the mist is more of a foggy rain. The whipping reigns of the wind and pelts of fog obstruct my sight. The road winds upwards on to white and I am drenched.

The Climb Steepens

It is upward. I know as much. The king of my chest roars in thudding gallops as I wrestle to gain each foot of ascent. But if everything is sloped… the roadside pines, the rocks, the pavement, the railing… how can I know that this is up? Perhaps this is what flat is, this suffering, and every road I have ever glided along, which I thought was flat, was really downhill. All was easy then. This is the snap back to reality.

Or maybe gravity pulls backward on my body because this road, once flat against a rocky plain, has been shifted as the whole Earth has tilted against me. It leans back toward me to roll me off its surface as a human lifts a paper to brush off eraser shavings. Perhaps the same human who erased the summit with this fog has tilted his sketchbook to brush me off.

But I grip the handlebars tighter, lift my hindquarters out of the saddle and shift the bike left and right beneath my weight. Left and right, I pound against the machine which is me. Which is the lower half of my body. Which is not me, but is the machine. I lean forward over the handlebars and sway in time to the ticking twitching in my legs. Lifting my eyes up from where they stared at the front wheel, I attempt to search the fog.

It is invisible in the blank mist. I am soaked and cold. Still, I climb.

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