There is a climb in Moab called “The Big Nasty”. It’s 3000 feet of elevation over seven miles…on your bike, your bicycle. Many riders have been known to push their bikes during certain sections just to make it through.
My “Big Nasty” is about a mile from my house. It is less than a mile and feels like thousands of feet of elevation. I have climbed it before on my bike, usually choking and coughing because I am breathing so hard. You almost have to come up this hill to get to my house on long rides through a neighboring town. So…I try to avoid the neighboring town. Today, Mark and I were riding around our neighborhood and as we were heading back to the house, I asked him what he felt like doing. He suggested we drop down and tackle the hill….my “big nasty”. I responded that it was too wet and there was probably too much traffic. I knew I wanted to tackle this hill again, but why today?
I kept coming up with excuses as we headed to the hill. As we rode down the “big nasty” I could tell that I did not want to go back up. I thought about the coffee shop a mile further and thought maybe I could wait there and Mark could ride home, get the car and pick me up. I knew I was going to make the climb but the coffee shop fantasy calmed my nerves.
So, what am I so afraid of? I am afraid of running out of steam on the hill (the steep hill) and slowing down to the point where I have to stop. Because I am clipped into my pedals, if I stop, I will fall over into a snow bank or into traffic or just onto the pavement depending on which way I fall. As long as I don’t fall right into a moving car, I probably won’t get hurt too badly, but it will suck nonetheless. These are the thoughts that have my heart rate up to 156 before we even start climbing.
As we start up the road, climbing just a bit, I can see my “Big Nasty” taunting me. It gets steeper every time I look up. The big wet patch of road on the steepest curviest part pushes me to turn around, to bail out. And as I start to huff and puff and talk about how hard it’s getting, Mark says, “You can always make a U turn”.
With that sentence, we both knew that I was going to make it to the top or fall off trying. With my heart rate monitor blinking 188, I pulled around the corner onto flat road and felt like the champion of the world.
My legs hurt from skiing yesterday and I was sucking wind but still smiling because I knew that I had conquered one more hill.
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