Climbing Out of a Slump
"You’re in a slump. Put your kit on." Sal is standing in the bedroom holding my bibs.
I am laying on the big king bed holding my ugly doll with a pillow over my head: "I DONT WANT TO GO!"
That is only half true but I am throwing a tantrum so this has to be dramatic.
"Yes you do, you’ll feel better afterwards. You have to get back on the bike."
He’s right. I know he’s right. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel like pulling the shades down, locking the door, and raiding my Cyclocross stash of Stone Russian Imperial Stout. At 11%, two bottles would have me flat out in no time. That sounds better than climbing Thurman and Germantown.
I am definitely in a slump. Has anyone seen my rally cap?
It takes every scrap of willpower that I have to drag myself up off the bed and into the spandex. I have been off my bike for a week but it seems like a year. If it is overcast for one more day I swear I’m going to snap. I’m sick of making circles with my Sidis.
"I’m sick of the bike." I am still complaining as we leave the house.
"You can’t be sick of the bike, you are a cycling columnist now."
"How did that happen???" I pout, slumped over my frame with my forearms on the tops. He locks the door and we clip in. The deal is sealed.
Thurman is like an old friend who knows all my secrets. I am beginning to love that hill like no other.
I am the type of annoying person who will say, "I like climbing!" but this does not mean that I am actually any good at it.
Hills confront you with an immediate and focused challenge that must be met. There is nothing else. You ask yourself, Does this ever end? and despite the fact that you know it does, you occasionally allow yourself to consider the possibility that it won’t.
Thurman. Germantown. I’ll call this ride Thurmantown. That thought would entertain me if I wasn’t bent over this aluminum machine, defying upward grades with valiant acts of human physics.
Sal snakes up the hill in front of me and I shove my arm warmers down around my wrists. So un-pro. Sloppy. I don’t care.
I have spent my whole life watching this man climb. That is how I feel. I have memorized the shape of his calves. I am lulled by the rhythmic sway of his saddle.
Sally the Tugboat.
I latch on.
This ride feels like a promise. It is all I can do. If I can finish this ride, then I am still who I thought I am. I feel quiet and insecure. If I am a cyclist, then I don’t remember how or why. Sal is showing me.
Back at home, I feel hills in my legs as we eat crockpot chicken with bulgar wheat.
Sal says, "Didn’t that feel good?"
Good is relative and we are delusional, but I take his meaning and agree. Sometimes pain is the only remedy for complacency.