Gear Change Up

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Pedal pedal pedal.

Up to the top of the road, and if the road doesn't read the top, then you go till the road dissolves into broken pavement, and then you go until the road dissolves to gravel and you can go no more.

Up all the way, up 40 meters to the next switchback, turn, and do it again.

Up to the town of Breglia, which was obviously built before the invention of the bicycle. Had it been built afterward, they would have put the town somewhere else. It's too hard a ride.

Up and over the cattle guards. That's dangerous and tricky at slow speeds.

50 meters, switchback. Stop, throw up. Get back on. Gotta be almost there. This time the road seems to go straight up and into the mountain, and the only way to keep the cranks going is to stand and put all your weight into each stroke.

Up to a dip in the road. You have to worry about having enough speed to get through. Throw the bike left as you pedal right. Vice versa. Over and out and upward and onward.

Switchback. Start counting pedal strokes. Promise yourself to count to 100, and if you aren't there yet, you gave it a good try, and you can go down.

33, 34, 35.

Only in a stupid sport like cycling can the burning in your legs start in your stomach and end at the tips of your fingers and toes. Stop here, but it's not 100 yet, so gotta keep going.

98, 99, 100.

Ok, 100 done. If you can do 100, surely you can do another 10.

Or another 358, until 468 pedal strokes later you skid to the side of a switchback wondering what the hell were the Romans thinking building this road. How did they manage to lead civilization for so long and build crappy roads like this?

One more shot. Crank once, crank twice, and finally get enough speed going to get the cranks around. Pedal pedal pedal. Switchback. Up another 30 meters, where the road turns to broken pavement. And the pavement turns to gravel.



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