Last Sunday I embarked on a great ride at White Ranch with my riding buddy Ed. Our first ride of the new year together, it was great to have a pal there, to shoot the bull, to discuss the proper line, to draft behind on the long slog up Belcher Hill and then onto Shorthorn Trail, all the way to the upper lot.
As always, the new season brings me hope: hope for a fun season, with lots of riding. Hope for advancing my skills and aerobic capacity. Hope for induction in the self-created Hall of Badassness.
The miserable have no other medicine but only hope.
(“Measure for Measure,” Act III, Scene I)
The climb up Belcher is long and slow, and just getting there is a challenge. Right outside the lower lot, before the climb begins in earnest, there are two gates—tough to open without clipping out and waddling through on foot—and then there’s the bane of my existence: a narrow, nearly impossible, rock garden.
I’ve cleared the rock garden maybe once in all my years of riding White Ranch. Usually I slam into a boulder and fall over. Often I scrape a shin, a hip, a forearm, an ear, an entire face.
It’s kind of a Zen thing, the rock garden. Yet there are no rakes, no bells, no monks in orange robes.
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man
knows himself to be a fool.
(“As You Like It,” Act V, Scene I)
To ride it, you have to think of one thing, and one thing only: keeping your front wheel in a clean line. And believing that you’ll make it through. Yes, the mantra here is “I think I can, I think I can…”
Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.”
(“Hamlet,” Act II, Scene II)
Thinking of nothing, I cleared the entire garden. Not bad for new season noodle legs.
In total the climb is around 2,000 feet of vertical. Toward the end, the steepest pitch yet awaits, full of burly waterbars and loose sand. At the end of last season, sometime in October, I cleared the entire section, for the first time ever.
Such modest successes make me feel alive and blissful. And hopeful that I am not yet in full age-decay mode, though I’ve been around for a while now (since 1966).
Success on this last pitch requires good balance, smooth pedaling, and staying out of full-blown anaerobic mode. I used to have to stop and suck wind in the middle of this section, as spots floated across my vision and my heart thrummed inside my skull.
Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.
(“Romeo and Juliet,” Act II, Scene III)
This day, I made it all the way to the top, without stopping.
I was so happy I could have cried. Man, that felt cool.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
(“Macbeth,” Act V, Scene V)
If you have any good Shakespeare quotes that relate, lemme know.
The view from Shorthorn Trail.
Ed enjoying the view–waiting for me to catch up.