Last year I performed at a story telling event called Untidy Secrets back in Tempe. Every month at the event they have a theme based on the title of a song. The song that was chosen that month was “All I Know Is That I Don’t Know Nothing.” What an easy thing to write about. I shared a laundry list of times in my life when I thought I knew the answers. I made the right decision. I knew.
As you can probably guess, I then explained how I was wrong in each of those situations. I made mistakes, I learned something, and then I went on to make more.
Each time, especially with age and all of the wisdom that comes with it, I knew my mistake making days were done. That brings us to today.
Today was hard. Really hard. We rode nearly seventy miles and climbed over four thousand feet. These weren’t rolling hills. These were mostly flat miles with six huge climbs. Six climbs that all hit at least eleven percent grades.
So, the day was hard. Yesterday was hard. The day before was hard. You get the point. So what was different today?
I would say it’s a culmination of this week. My legs hurt, my ass hurts (both the muscles and the bones), my brain is exhausted, I have been stressed about riding situations, I don’t know if I am eating enough or too much, and I still have to ride.
Today I cracked on the climb that I pointed out in the previous picture.
I was in sight of the top. It was over ninety degrees, sunny, and humid. I looked at my computer on my handlebars and it told me I was climbing at an eleven percent grade and I had about a quarter of a mile left. My legs were on fire so I went to my shifter for the lowest gear possible. I was already there. The constant wiping across my forehead did nearly nothing to stop the sweat from pouring into my already burning eyes. As I pedaled at a speed that would give the slowest walker in any given grocery store anxiety I watched a giant horsefly make circles around me, ready to come in for a bite. There was no way I could bring up the strength to swat had it decided to land.
That’s when it happened. My brain went wild with questions. Why am I doing this? Is there a point? Should I be institutionalized? Am I getting anything out of this?
And it went deeper. What will I find here? What am I doing with my life? Will I find a purpose? Is there any possible way to get out of the slump I’ve been in? Is there a point to anything?
I felt hopeless. I wanted to be sitting on a couch in air conditioning watching who cares on TV. But, that wasn’t an option. I’m in Appalachia. In these foothills you are lucky to get any kind of cell service, and if I could who would I call? So I pushed.
When I finally made it to the top I stopped, caught my breath, and drank some water. Then I pedaled.
On the opposite side of the climb was a winding mountain road. After the initial push I didn’t have to move my legs. I gained speed and then gained some more. And then my mind shut off. I was in the moment. As I approached forty five miles per hour on this winding mountain road I was happy. I was so happy that I started laughing and crying at the same time. I had to have looked insane.
The last ten miles were pleasant, but I was ready to be off my bike. I don’t really want to ride tomorrow, but I will. Sunday I will be taking a much needed day off. I’ll post more about this week then. I met some great people and saw great things. But that’s not what is on my mind toady.
This is difficult. More difficult than anything I have ever given up on in the past. I don’t know exactly what I am looking for or what I’ll find on this adventure, but I am going to find out.
It’s Just Pepper Baby!