It didn't look like much. It was called Mount Sentinel, and its western slope, hovering over my new hometown, Missoula, Montana, was treeless and dun colored and suggested the lumpy mass of a sleepy, overfed dog. Halfway up, a giant whitewashed "M" was emblazoned on its face, and standing before it in the sharp northern light of late afternoon August, I could see a few dozen figures oldsters and house pets among them upward on switchbacks. The hill seemed as forbidding as a neighborhood playground.
10. When your bike computer registers triple digits for one ride.
11. Clearing a log on a the trail.
03. Being unable to sleep the night after you first shave your legs, because of the tingle of bedsheets against your skin.
After a brief, screaming, misleading descent, the road turned uphill again, and this time it kept going up at a moderate though unrelieved grade for the next 7 miles, yielding to a rutted jeep trail. You couldn't see the top of the road, but you knew it wasn't coming anytime soon. You weren't so much on the mountain as in it. I realized I had to change the way I rode. The hill wasn't in the way; it was the way, and struggling against it would only be wearying and miserable. I fell back onto the saddle, shifted into low gear and let my heart rate subside. I breathed steadily. I found a constant, unheroic cadence and began to move along. It was hard work, but not excruciating. I stopped obsessively checking my speed and distance. In some ways, it was a matter of adapting to a different rhythm, giving up rock and roll for a deep taste of the blues. At slow speed, over the long haul, it seemed that riding wasn't just a matter of strong legs and lungs. Rather than pushing myself uphill, at times I could almost believe I was being pulled along.
09. When you hang out at the bike shop and no Nike Air Max 90 White Grey
04. When "thanks for the ride" goes from something you overhear to part of your lexicon.
After a few miles, I came to a logging road that cut into the mountain's backside. I turned in, and without warning the road climbed sharply. I had no time to build speed, and was, on principle, too stubborn to shift to my rarely used lowest gears. I was not a stranger to hills, of course; even the flatlands dip and rise. But I regarded hills as a momentary nuisance, an occasion to stand on my pedals, grit my teeth, and get done with it in a short lived and profane anaerobic tantrum. It was clear now that that approach had met the limits of its usefulness. I found myself grinding to a dead stop. I sprang from the saddle and fought to turn my legs. Still, I was barely moving. The reading on my computer flickered between zero and 4 mph. I had a vision of being forced to dismount and walk uphill, and the indignity of it kept me straining against the pedals and inching along. I suspect that my panting disturbed wildlife. By the time I made it up that first pitch was scarcely 500 yards knew I was no longer in Iowa. I felt like someone who had learned how to swim at a spa and had now been thrown into the open sea.
Ocean after having dipped your rear tire in the Pacific 7 weeks ago.
07. Discovering how a convenience store Coke can resurrect the dead.
When I got home that evening, I told myself I had just had the most difficult ride of my life. Within a few weeks, though, it became my standby climb much more than a good morning workout. That hill changed riding for me. It allowed me, over time, to go longer, climb farther and faster, endure more. The most important shift I ever made on a bike was not mechanical and had nothing to do with equipment. It was about how to win an uphill battle without even fighting.
I'll admit I rode places where I was not welcome. When I lived in Iowa, I was scolded by bird watchers and farmers. In Kentucky, I ventured onto red dirt roads, winding through tobacco patches and bean fields, and following disused skid trails through the woods. Those were simpler times. I owned one pair of cycling shorts, but preferred cutoff jeans and Converse sneakers stuffed into toe clips, and I gripped the handlebar with a pair of weight lifting gloves. I rode all the time. But what I didn't know was that I didn't know what a mountain was.
one expects you to buy anything.
Cyclists' Rites of Passage
08. Starting and finishing a ride same one pouring rain.
I had just arrived in Missoula. I was in my mid 20s, but I had never before been to the Rockies, and I was eager to learn how it would feel to put some "mountain" under the wheels of my mountain bike. Oh, that bike: I had bought it Nike Air Max 90 Reflective three years earlier, in 1989, when it seemed that everyone was dumping their road bikes for hulking bush crashers. It was steel gray, weighed a little less than a house and was impervious to abuse. I loved it. It had restored me to the anarchic childhood joys of bike riding, when being on two wheels meant going all out, disregarding the distinctions among pavement, grass and mud, and returning home late, filthy and not infrequently battered.
02. You go from one pair of shorts to a dedicated drawerful.
06. Bonking so bad you don't think you'll be able to make it home.
riding your first century ever in a cross country ride and having to be told by your partner that you passed the century mark 15 miles back on a hybrid .
Doing your first cross continent tour and realizing that you can indeed ride 8 70+ miles days in a row.
buying your first and only (so far) road bike.
I was about to find out. I rode toward the M, then past it, pedaling out of Missoula along an old railroad embankment skirting the north side of the mountain, looking for a bikeable uphill path. Air Max 90 Ultra Br Black
05. You see someone at the beach tanned low on the quads and biceps, and give him a nod of recognition.
Compleing your first cross country ride by finally dipping your front tire in the Atlantic Nike Air Max 90 Jd Sports
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