All the energy flows upward, eyes to the horizon, shoulders above bars, swaying, hips ahead of saddle, surging from the pedals. The road tilts up here, moderately at first, then more aggressively.
I big ring the first 50 meters, just to the first streetlight. The metal post rises there, not quite half way to the top. This is a historic district, and really, I think, it ought to be oak, rough hewn, but convenience and cost usually trump history. I wouldn’t probably have noticed, except that it is the perfect landmark for a shift, my quads flooding with acid, my breath rising sharply.
If I take this route, which is the most direct way home, I try to sprint it, despite the pitch. The lanes are narrow and the traffic moves fast. Every second of churn here, I am in the way. Cars squeeze past, their side view mirrors grasping for my handlebars.
The crux comes three-quarters of the way up, the point where the energy ceases to flow upward, where it seeps out, my chest caves a little. I begin to grind.
If I’m good, if I’m fit, if the cars aren’t penning me in, I can regroup here, take a deep breath and maybe stand again to churn out the rest. The top is the only landmark now, an easy escape there down a side road with clean, new pavement.
But if I’m here, I’m likely late, the only really good reason to take the shortest distance between two points. And if I’m late, stress and anxiety are usually the only form I’ve got. They’ll carry me through the first mad, climbing dash. That feeling, of flying upward, of beating gravity, if only for a handful of seconds, is transcendent. Even in the defeated churn that follows, there is the after glow of having flown.