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Climbing all day, on loose, skittery stones.
I’m tired and not concentrating, and have already fallen off twice.  I must fall off my bike more often than anyone in the entire history of cycle touring.  These tyres are a pretty good choice for all terrain touring but I’ve a growing desire for some Seriously Fat Tyres.

Photo: Tom Walwyn

Some hills just go on and on, and I don’t even know how long this one’s supposed to be. My Whinging Internal Monologue is up at full volume.

Are we there yet?  

It’s hot, too hot, and I’m tired, so, so tired.

How much further?  I can’t do this!    

Yes you can, there have been plenty of hills between Canada and Perú, shut up and settle into it.

Photo: Joe Cruz

Tom’s up ahead as usual, and I wish for the thousandth time that we could swap bodies for a day.

He doesn’t know how lucky he is. He should try being me for a change.                                   Or better yet, I’d like to be a 23 year old guy for a day.  I’ve trailed a few of them up hills on this trip, green-eyed with envy as they seem to float effortlessly up ahead while I puff and toil in their wake. I guess I’m as fit as I’ll ever be, but I’ll never get to experience that.  I would like, just for one day, to feel what it’s like to have that kind of power and energy in reserve.

Photo: Tom Walwyn

For me, energy levels are unaccountably variable.  Some days, I’m a machine, I can go on and on for ever. Other days, I’m running on empty. On such days I argue with the whinging voice inside my head, or try to drown it out with my ipod.                                                       Like today.

The road steepens and my thighs burn in protest, my heart pumps too too hard and at this altitude, I’m badly short of breath.

Oh God this is just too much, when does this end?                                                      

Why am I doing this, again?                                          

I never want to work this physically hard ever again in my life!

Well what do you want to do, throw your bike into a ditch and sit down and cry?   Actually, yes, that’s just what I feel like doing.  But I don’t, because I know that won’t bring the top any nearer.

Photo: Tom Walwyn

I wonder again how athletes and sports enthusiasts motivate themselves to keep pushing when it’s hurting so much.  I can get myself to do this as part of an onward journey, but if I were out for a 2-hr Saturday morning exercise session, I’d probably be turning around and heading home right about now.

Is that the top?  I can’t see much up above me now, surely we must be nearly there….
No it’s probably another false one, don’t get your hopes up….

Photo: Tom Walwyn

It really is the top.  There are no further upward curves hiding around the corner beyond it.  Tom’s there waiting for me.  We stand and rest for a few moments, enjoying the new vista, eating chocolate and layering up for the descent.

Photo: Joe Cruz

Then I’m off, and a grin splits my face in two as I swoop through this picture perfect place, accelerating to five, ten times my climbing speed, forgetting my recent struggles and falling in love all over again with this life I have chosen.

 

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