We took a family trip to Grandfather Mountain, which is the finish line for the Bridge to Bridge Incredible Cycling Challenge which, if you don’t know about it, is a ride of about 102 miles beginning in Lenoir, NC and ending up near the Mile High Swinging Bridge at the top of Grandfather. I rode Bridge to Bridge in 2005, so this was a chance for me to bore my entire family to tears by recounting my adventure. I like to think that I didn’t actually bore anyone to tears, but I have a feeling my family would disagree with me on that one. (I know that I didn't bore my daughter. She couldn't hear me over the sound of her iPod.)
One really fun thing about the trip was that I could see how I used to ride, and it helped fire me up to ride more and better now. One bad thing about the trip was that I didn’t have a bicycle with me. (It isn’t much of a family trip if part of the family is off wreaking havoc on himself on a bicycle for hours (or, given my current state of fitness, minutes) instead of hanging out with the family.
I have to admit that I watched cyclists riding up and down the mountain with a measure of envy. I spotted one guy at the gates to the park straddling his bike and leaning heavily in his handlebars. I saw a couple who had stopped partway up a climb and didn’t envy them the prospect of getting moving again. I also saw one guy sitting on the grass rubbing his legs with his bike lying beside him.
In other words, these people were suffering. When I did Bridge to Bridge, I suffered. I can remember at least some of the pain (though I suspect that I've blocked some of it out!), but here I am longing to ride those roads again. What’s wrong with me?
Well, I’m a cyclist, that’s what. Of course, that doesn’t actually answer the question. If I were to actually describe the effort it took me to get up that mountain, and assuming that the person I was talking to didn’t either
(a) fall asleep or
(b) beat me into silence just to make it stop
but actually listened and the, at the end of it, asked me why I did it, what would I say?
I don’t know.
Because I wanted to. Because, in some bizarre way, I enjoyed it. Because I needed it. Because it’s there. Because it’s therapeutic. Because of the great feeling of the pain stopping when I got to the top. Because it means I’m alive. Because I like the T-shirt.
Because I am secretly Jeff the Cyclist?
(Click on the comic to see the whole thing.)
You know, it's kind of cold, cloudy and wet today, but I think I'll go for a ride.