Conversation with a hill.

Behind my house there is a hill. A large one – or large in my mind.

Every day I ride the bike on the way home I encounter this hill, there’s no way around it. In the mornings it’s downhill, which is a blessing and a curse. It means that I can coast downhill while I’m half asleep. It also means that I get up to speed very fast and by the time I get to the bottom I am freezing. There is no warmup for The Hill – it is literally 2 steps out my back door.

I’m terrible with distances but my guess is it’s about 300 yards from top to bottom. If you have stairs in your house, go get a piece of wood and lay it down on the flight of stairs – I’d say that’s about the equivalent of the incline – perhaps a little less. [Note: In all truthfulness, I just rode this hill about 4 hours after I wrote this and it’s probably not that steep. Perhaps I exaggerated a little. It hurts though. Take my word for it.]

Oh, and the last 5o feet or so, it ticks up a few degrees steeper, just to mess with you when you think you’re almost to the top and your legs are about to explode.

Everday as well, on the way home, The Hill and I meet again. This time going up.

No matter what has happened that day – good things, bad things, stress, problems at work, problems at home that find their way to work…The Hill doesn’t care.

It all comes down to The Hill and I.

Everyday we have this conversation.

I can recall days when I rode The Hill sitting up in the saddle, with no hands on the bars without even thinking about it. Other days I have almost come to a complete standstill – and one day – actually unclipped a foot and I was about to get off and walk before literally screaming at The Hill in defiance and clipping back in.

In almost 2 years now, I have never walked The Hill.

Every day as I round the last corner of my ride that leads into the bottom, we start to talk.

“Who’s it gonna be today? You or me?”

It’s always 50/50. This is the great thing about The Hilll. I’ve ridden it on 3 or 4 different bikes, with different gearings and all manner of different fuel in my tank from energy bars to gumdrops. The result has never been exactly the same and every day when I roll into the bottom of it neither of us knows the outcome.

When I first moved into my house and started commuting to work, I loathed The Hill. “What a drag,” I thought.

The Hill and I are partners now. Everyday, cars drive up The Hill over and over again. There is no challenge for The Hill, no chance – and The Hill knows it.

But with me – The Hill gets a challenge everyday – and I can feel it. It has a chance to prove something.

I get the challenge too. And as I roll into it each day and think about how I’m going to address it, before I know it – the conversation has begun – and once it’s begun there’s really no time to analyze it – you just ride it to it’s conclusion and hope that you have argued well.

We have a partnership The Hill and I. Everyday, it gets to remind someone that Nature still is and always will be bigger than we are. For myself? Well, somewhat akin to venting to an old friend, everyday once I reach the top of The Hill – all those problems I mentioned earlier have been dropped way back at the bottom.

Epiphany.

When you thread 2 pieces of rubber 2.3″ wide through an opening between two rocks that’s 2.4″ wide going downhill at about 20mph on wet ground without even really thinking about it – then when you realize what you’ve done and you start laughing out loud with no one around…

Then you’ll get it.

It’s even better when this realization comes on your daily commute to work.

“And now, your moment of Zen.”

Muck muckity muck.

Got out for a ride today and the bike was unhappy. I think it knows that I’m building another one to – temporarily at least – take it’s place.

It knows this, and today it aligned with the drivetrain to spite me. Here I sit.

Spited.

Every ride can’t be the perfect one I guess.

Today I dreamed of a single speed – but wait, I almost had one anyway. The bike is upset with me. Tisk tisk.

The shoes on the other hand are very happy. They kept my toes toasty. Even in the muck.

So alas, I am home now. Still glad to have gone and rode than sit on the couch. The bike is in the workshop, sulking.

The kids are home from a birthday party and threw a fit and passed out. Lyn too. ‘Course she took them to the party so I’m not surprised. She’s the goods – after all, I got to go mountain biking right?

I’ve a beer and a bag of chips and the tv awaits….