I took my time leaving work. This morning I changed a flat, and in my rush (as always) I put a twist in the tube, which happened to be a good excuse for taking my time. Today wasn’t particularly a bad day, quite good in fact. A new position at work distracted me from the stress I’ve been feeling, and the overwhelming feelings of falling short. All while providing proof for that feeling. In the end, I just wanted to be and ride alone.
Most of the regular commute crew had already departed, leaving only my boss and another co-worker, Big Time. I chatted briefly, but can’t remember about what as I zipped up the my vest, shuffled across the concrete floor the warehouse and grabbed my bike from the stand and rolled out the cargo bay door. Rippled clouds with spots of sun and blue sky moved above me.
It only takes a moment to get through the rush hour traffic around work before going past the school, down Prescott make a left on 77th and up the small, but still hard hill. The one that always see the first attacks of the commute home. Today its just me and the only attacks that come are the ones in my head. I didn’t sleep well the night before, which — if I’m looking for a silver lining — means that I’m over the cold that’s been haunting me since late last week. I went to bed feeling like a joke. Then woke from a dream, in which I was a joke of a human being. We manifest our own realities, and right now I’m doing so good at manifesting the reality I want. One in which I don’t feel like a joke.
77th takes me past Sandy to Fremont and a left turn through the light at 82 and to Rocky Butte. I spent a lot of time climbing here, often alone when I was unemployed. Since I don’t believe in fate I have no choice to find it slightly amusing that the same place I tested myself as a climber are the same places I come to test myself as a cyclist.
A test is what I need. Last week’s race was supposed to be a test of the fitness I’ve gained. That’s one test I’ve failed this week. The previously mentioned cold has held me back from going deep in the next phase of my training, but after two days of complete rest and one day of recovery riding I’m finally feeling like going pushing myself. I did pass one test earlier today, a job interview, which netted me a new position at the company that was kind enough to give me a job after two years of unemployment. That test was easy. But earlier in the day I failed a self test, one that should have been easy for me to pass, but failed spectacularly.
At the church I hit the lap button, but keep the computer on screen that keeps me from knowing my time. Threshold is goal to the top is the goal. I try to keep the pace up and focus on two things. My position on the bike and keeping my cadence up. Close to 100, where I my legs feel best. hands on the hoods with elbow’s bent. Just I like I see the PROs do. I don’t feel bad for copying that style.
I know my best time, but not how I compare right now. I don’t feel bad, but I don’t feel good either. I’m just focused on keeping things smooth. The only monitor of passing time is my knowledge of the geography in this part of Portland. I’m starting to feel like letting up, but I know by the stones placed along the road that I’m close to the castle at the top. I keep pushing to the spot where the intervals stop. 5:07. Twenty seconds faster. Not bad. I’m either fitter, or more efficient. I’ll take either one.
That wasn’t enough to quiet the thoughts that are haunting me. I need something else. I take the lap at the top to recover. Having come up the North side I make the decision to descend down the South side. Descending is a weakness, so I kick into the big the ring and dive down the south side of the volcano. I push hard, easily reaching the 11 at the edge of my cassette and the edge of my ability to push the big gear.
My mind is clear and I take each corner faster than I have ever before. I’m still clean. Moving out toward the double yellow for the apex before going deeper into my lane. I manage to never cross. I brake just a bit before the big curves then stand and kick out once I’ve cleanly crossed the turns peak. I almost loose control going through the tunnel, but manage to straighten out and hit the last straight way to the bottom. Normally I tuck here and get out over the front wheel. Not this time. Today I stand and push hard into the pedals. No cars are coming up ahead. So I’m clear there. I coast and look to me right, where the high road gives me view to the junction below. No cars. I’m clear, so I stand one more time and push my weight into the pedals, flying past the white line marking the finish to the descent. My demon sated for the moment.