Friday, June 02, 2006

Sustained climb

Date: June 1
Mileage: 28.6
June mileage: 28.6
Temperature upon departure: 45

I stumbled across an article today about a woman who rode her bike from the Dead Sea to Everest Base Camp and then climbed to the top. The world's longest climb. Pretty cool. Sometimes I wonder how my life would be different if I had it in me to dream big ... crazy big. Given my predisposition to clumsiness and a paralyzing vertigo that I have yet to overcome completely, I'd probably no longer be alive. But if you could pick one crazy big accomplishment to be the first person ever to succeed in, what would it be? I wouldn't mind being the first person to ride my bike across the Bering Sea in the winter - thereby enabling me to literally ride my bike around the world. Of course, I'd have to convert my bike into some kind of paddle boat to cross the Panama Canal. And I'd have to skip Australia altogether. And I'd have to parlay my admittedly terrible sense of direction on ice floes that move faster than I do. But why nitpick? It's a fun dream.

All I have now is my own personal Everest, which is not so much an Everest as a daily bike commute - 1,150 feet elevation gain stretched across four miles (plus two miles of flats) - but it gets easier every time. When I started riding the hill on a regular basis last winter, I was lucky to keep my speedometer above 5 mph. Now I rarely dip below 6 and probably average closer to 7.5 mph - which, despite how slow this still might be, is (I think) a great improvement. I hope to use this hill in the near future to practice sustained climbing - you know, go up, then right back down, then up again. There's potential there to ride some real "elevation" over relatively short distances. I think the hardest battle will actually turning tail at the top of that gut-busting climb: licking the crusted salt from my lips and wiping streams sweat from my eyelids, knowing that my only reward will be the screaming 5-minute descent I use to tear away all that effort before I turn around to face it again.