Sunday, December 16, 2007

Nietzsche Would Have Ridden Singlespeed

Man is a bridge to the superman; man must overcome himself: all that jazz. Nietzsche would have ridden a singlespeed and ridden it up this hill. He'd have seen the point of struggling in a battle that you can never win. Toiling against a hill that's not just long enough and steep enough but, in the winter, grossly unfair. It's not just about muscle, not just about technique, it's an examination of your psychology. The hill is hard, it's harder than you are and it will beat you, but will you commit yourself fully to taking it on? If you are going to fail, will you fail with a whimper or a cry of exhaustion? At any moment you could fail. A couple of inches of leaves remove every visible detail from the trail and drag at your every pedal stroke. And then as every fibre, every twitch, every ounce of concentration is keeping you moving straight up the gulley, a hidden tree-root spins the back wheel out from under you. The frustration is beyond words, but the hill is here to teach you lessons not to patronise your self-worth. Accept your limitations, get back on, accept that it will probably happen again. It's one dark gulley of the soul and I love the chance of success it offers in the summer just as much as the certainty of failure in the winter.

Arriving at the top is like returning from another world. To be without the insistent strain, the mocking and impassive mix of gravity and terrain - it suddenly seems strange. The world has more colour and intensity, and you just happen to be at the top of an excellent trail down to Wendover.

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