Pedaling up a seemingly infinite stretch of the ascent to Wolf Creek Pass calls to mind Robert Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Less Traveled.”
Whether cruising along the flats, working my way up a steep climb, or gunning down the other side, road biking feels like traversing uncharted water, even in your hometown, even when you’ve ridden the route numerous times, because you’re using your own engine.
Biking the same road you’ve traveled a hundred times by car feels like a different world entirely.
And it is.
In the synchronicity of the pedal stroke, you find power. Road biking is not an exercise in speed, but in smoothness. How fast you can go depends more on the grace and fluidity of your pedal stroke than on brute force. Keeping the upper body relaxed, it’s a seamless push-pull-push-pull with the legs, supported by strong, stabilizing core muscles. Obstacles in the road demand balance to negotiate, and it’s always preferable to ride around, rather than through, debris or potholes that could cause a flat.
When riding with or coming upon other roadies, it’s common practice to work together because a group can move more efficiently together than separate. Taking turns at the helm, riders fall into a natural paceline. Each time you come to the front, you are blocking the wind for the rest of the riders. Each time you pull off and reabsorb into the pack, you enjoy a well-earned slipstream.
What if we lived the way we ride?
If we opted to work together with those we encounter on the same path rather than compete?
If we recognized that humanity is only as strong as its weakest link?
If we sourced our inner power from the grace by which we moved through this world rather than by how far we have tromped?
If we didn’t get distracted by every obstacle in our path, but stayed focused on balance, and sometimes just went around?
Next time your life starts to feel like a constant uphill grind, take it back to the steady momentum of the bike.
And, remember, there is no uphill without a corresponding downhill.
And, remember, once you get over the hill, you’ll begin to pick up speed.