Friday, February 18, 2011

My Own Private Ventoux

Wherever you live, you have it: Your hill.

Upon reading those words, you may already have a snapshot in your mind's eye of the closest place to your house where the road turns upward. I'm lucky, living in New England; mine is only seven minutes from home, just far enough to warm up a bit before I hit the base.

In February, just back on the bike after months of maintenance-level fitness and not using cycling muscles, that little bump seems far longer and harder than I remember it. In September, after 20,000 leagues of climbing, sweating, huffing and puffing, it's a piffling pimple, to be surmounted out of the saddle and forgotten the moment I complete the descent.

But I am always glad to see it. Mine is a short stretch of road with homely little farms and perpetually half-renovated homesteads lining the sides, and even a brief patch of forest. At the bottom of the descent is a picturesque little lake on one side, and an old mill building perched over the stream on the other, recently converted into a simple but elegant home.

Wherever your Ventoux is, go climb it the next moment the weather allows. Climbing is a metaphor for life, or something close to it, and reaching the top feels good every time.