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A Reminder of Who I am

Posted by johnnieraz on March 6, 2021 at 1:10 AM

By John Rezell

     It's downright entertaining how we change throughout our course in life. I'm tempted to say we evolve, but, at least in my case, that might be a bit of a stretch.

     I think about life as a youngster when I could tell you the typical batting order for every team in Major League Baseball. These days I would be hard-pressed to name nine Major Leaguers.

     What really prompts this, though, goes much deeper. I remember days of my youth literally plotting and planning the type of person I wanted to be. What I would deem important throughout my life, and what I wouldn't waste mental energy on.

     These introspective moments happened on runs while training for cross country or track back in junior high, and later in high school on long bike rides. When I look back across my life, I see that I've pretty much maintained those core beliefs and stuck to them.

     At an even deeper level is who we are and what we tolerate, something that comes much clearer into focus as life forges on. This struck me one day.

     My co-worker and I discussed that we commute on our bikes every day and as such, we really have what I refer to as "commuter fitness."

     That's a polite way of saying that I probably can ride a lot farther than your average folks reading this on their couch with their laptops balanced on their tummies. How much effort that balancing act takes would tell me how much farther I could ride.

    Compared to the people out there who spend more time in Lycra than Cotton, well, the fitness level disparity is probably about the same as me and couch potatoes.

    To combat this, I mentioned that my commute straight to work and home would probably take 25-30 minutes each way. However, I take a longer route to attempt to be on my bike closer to an hour each way. My co-worker commended me on this, and simply asked, "Do you look for hills to climb?"

    I shrugged and said, no, not really. My black lab Ridgely and I usually save serious hill climbing for weekends when we usually get in one good ride.

    That's when I realized that, really, I spend the majority of my time just riding for fitness, not fun.

    Now I'm not a real testosterone pumped dude. Much more on the mellow side. And had my co-worker said, "Man, that's whimpy that you don't hammer some hills" I would have no doubt ignored the message completely.

    Instead, he got in my head.

    Next thing you know, I'm commuting to work and taking detours to climb hills. Cursing my co-worker the whole way up.

    My climbs are hardly the Alps or Rockies, but for a commuter, this is big stuff. I feel the difference in my legs. I feel the need for more.

     Ever since, I'm a climbing fool. I seek out climbs. My weekend rides are heading out to climb for 2-3 hours, then turn around and coast home. It's to the point where climbs have become the spiritual focal point of my rides.

     Nothing compares to the rhythm and cadence of a climb. You can't zone out and contemplate the meaning of life.You understand the micro differences of grade.

     You remain in the present.

     You feel your breathing.

     Hear your heart.

     Feel life.

     I'm pretty sure the essence of my climbing obsession boils down to the same reason I ride 26x2.35 knobbies everywhere, on the road, gravel and trails. If I rode on 700x25, I would have to be out hours longer for the same workout. Same with climbing. Two hours climbing 2,000 feet would be lord knows how many hours on a flat.

     Don't get me wrong: I love riding my bike. I just can't keep my attention span active more than 4-6 hours.

    Interesting how I forgot what my motivational buttons are. Evenso, it's good to know they still work. Up, up and away.

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