Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Hills Are Alive --- With the Sound of Wheezing

It’s official! I am out of shape. I thought I was doing alright, but the hills around Auckland, New Zealand will not endure fat slackers. I’m about 15 lbs heavier than I was 2 years ago when I rode around here – and a year of living in the flat lands around Lansing has robbed me of my climbing legs and lungs. It was foolish, but as I headed out this morning I decided to take on the toughest hill in the area – PointView Dr. It is less than a kilometer long and climbs steeply about 400 feet in that distance. There are places on the climb that are so steep that concrete trucks lose bits of their load and leave it on the pavement. So, it is really steep, but I climbed it non-stop two years ago. Today, I stopped about 2/3 of the way up, waited for my heart rate to slow down to near red-line and then got back on. I made another few hundred feet linear and 30 – 40 feet vertical when I had to get off and WALK! I haven’t walked a hill in years. It is so humbling. From there I got to ride up and down several other challenging hills including a 2 k climb of 300 to 400 vertical feet. I only covered about 16 miles, was passed by another cyclist like I was standing still – which I almost was – and then crawled back to Brett & Kristen’s apartment.

This Saturday, I’m supposed to ride with the Manukau Veterans Cycling Club. I did well with them the last round, but now I’m fearful of another humiliation. But, I will be out there anyway – giving it my best and trying not to shame my American roots. After all, we’ve
dominated the Tour de France for eight years, how dare I let the home-team down. Perhaps I can pull out a Floyd Landis-like recovery and power past all other pretenders. All I need is an extra dose of testosterone.

Or, maybe I’ll be humbled again. That would probably be the best. Humiliation can do one of two things – give you a view of reality that you are an older, overweight, cheese and ice-cream loving lug or it can motivate you to train harder, discipline oneself to push back on the ice-cream and go out and kick some scrawny Kiwi cycling butt.

As with so much of life – there are always challenges and choices.
(The first photo is of the bottom of Pointview Rd and the second is a veiw one gets of the same hill from across the valley.)

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