Since getting a nicely equipped carbon road bike, I bike more than I ever have. I continually challenge myself to longer, harder rides. First, it was the Pacific Populaire, a 100 km ride in April. Next, it was the West Maui Loop, another 100 km in May. And, then The Canada Day Populaire (146 km) in early July. Late in July, I cycled to Squamish, a 90 km ride taking the route we chose challenging ourselves to frequent climbs along Marine Drive and on the sea-to-sky highway. And, last weekend, I climbed Cypress Mountain, a 15 km climb with an average grade of 5.5% – a favourite climb for local riders but one I have never completed previously despite living (and riding) here for 30 years.
I am particularly proud of this climb. I wasn’t certain I could complete it. Despite cycling to Squamish, a ride that includes two 3 km climbs that, in parts, are steeper, I wasn’t certain I could last for 15 km. I surprised myself. Despite working up a heavy sweat, the climb was easier than I expected. I maintained a steady pace (12-15 km per hour) in my lowest gear – an hour of steady climbing from the highway to the restaurant at the top. I wasn’t certain what to expect but, having completed the climb, I think I may be able to do it faster next time.
Between long, challenging rides, I train regularly – multiple laps around the Stanley Park Road at least twice a week; repeat climbs up the UBC hill from Spanish Banks; and, 70 km rides out to Stevenson, around Richmond and back.
Despite my age, I am having some success. The more I ride, the more I want to ride. I am stronger and faster than ever. I may not be able to keep up with the 30 year olds but keep up with the more “seasoned” bikers. No. Cyclists. Road cyclists. There is a distinction. Bikers commute to work, shop and visit on their bikes. Road cyclists ride to train; to climb faster and higher; to ride longer and faster.
Today, I came across the following slide deck, WHAT I CARRY. It captures what cycling means to me and why, not matter how fast or far I ride, I consider my cycling efforts a success.
- I am humbled every time I clip into the pedals. I am continually amazed how easily some climb and descend the local hills. And, how beautiful this city is.
- I am filled with a sense of wonder every time I discover a new road, a new hill to climb and a new rolling, winding country road to explore.
- After every ride, I am filled with optimism, pleased with my efforts and looking forward to the next ride.
- I help others to ride and maintain their bikes. I tell them it is good for their health, good the the environment and just plain fun.
- Every ride ends with a cup of coffee. I search out new cafes en route and regularly end my ride at Bean Around The World on Main Street.
- When I am on the bike, I look inward. I become introverted focusing on my inner dialogue and the bigger picture.
- I am agile on the bike narrowly missing pot holes and carefully choosing my line as I strive to descend faster.
- I am filled with energy at the end of a ride wanting to do more.
- Every time I straddle the saddle, I begin to whistle, a habit that annoys many. I can’t help it. It is fun.
- And, when I am rolling on two wheels, I work on my story, my unique experience in this place, searching for relevance and validation.