Tag Archives: Descending

Your mountain is waiting so get on your way

Road heading up a mountain

About half way up to Falls Creek, November 2017.

Last year I was in a meeting and somehow, towards the end, the conversation angled itself around to the fact that I was going away to Bright with a big group of friends to ride up some mountains which then leads to plenty of eating and drinking. I got asked why would you ride up a mountain?

At the time, all I could come up with was because it’s there?

It’s so hard to explain why I ride up mountains when I most definitely do not have the right body type for it. I’m probably¬† a good 10 kilos too heavy to ever find climbing easy.

But for some crazy reason, I keep persisting. Since October last year, I’ve ridden up Mt Donna Buang six times. My best time was set way back in 2013, pre-Juno and when I was riding heaps. I’ve been edging closer and closer to it but now I’ll have to wait until after winter to try again.

Donna isn’t by any means an easy climb. It has two incredibly steep sections, one right at the end which averages around a 10% grade and it’s a killer. Every time I get out there, I always end up wondering why I’m doing it. It causes me physical pain but yet I persist.

As I’m doing it I often can’t help but think how stupid I’m being.

Why am I’m willingly hurting myself? Why I am putting myself through it when there’s no obvious reward? I know it puzzles a lot of people, especially because I don’t look like someone who would willingly ride up a mountain.

It’s so hard to explain to someone who doesn’t ride a bike.

I always used to hate riding up mountains, really hated it. I found it so hard and the little voice in my head was always saying negative things to me like you can’t do it, you’re too weak or what made you think you could do this, you idiot. The only reason I persisted was because I really, really, really loved descending. There’s nothing quite like bombing it down a mountain as fast as you can. The rush of the air, the blur of the scenery flying past, the ease. It’s the best thing in the world.

Having a baby has changed my perception of climbing. For one thing, it’s given me far more patience and I understand that I can do whatever I want if I put my mind to it. I mean, I had a baby. I grew a whole new person! It kinda puts everything into perspective. My self talk has essentially boiled down to you had a baby, this is nothing!

If nothing else, it gives me time to think or to simply live in the moment. It’s become a mindfulness activity for me. It’s also time I spend alone which is a luxury these days. For me, it’s turned out to be really important that I have reminders of the person I was before I became a mum and that I’m still that person (just with some added extras these days).

I still don’t love climbing but these days I do have an appreciation for it.

Trees at the edge of the road.

How could you not enjoy climbing when you get to see things like this? About half way up Lake Mountain, March 2018.

Something good, something bad

I’ve noticed a pattern. Something good is always either preceded or followed by something bad. It’s like I can’t have one without the other.

Things at work have gotten… umm… stressful. For the first time ever, I’m caught in the middle of a restructure. Plenty have happened around me (it’s a university, we restructure all the time) but this is the first one that has directly affected me. From where I stand, the process hasn’t been handled particularly well. There’s a lot of misunderstanding and defensiveness on both sides now and right now I can’t see how it’s all going to be resolved in a way that makes everyone happy. How we’re all supposed to work together, I have no clue.

I know that I should be worrying only about myself but I can’t help but be really angry at what’s being done to some of my workmates. I’ve worked with these people for over five years now. I see them every day. How can I not be concerned about what’s going to happen to them? Unlike them, I have the (dubious) fortune having a position to move to. I know I should be happy to have this certainty. However, I can’t help but have some doubts about what it’ll be like to work in the new group. The position description for the job I’ll be slotted into is vague at best and I’m not sure I want to be a “Content Analyst”.

Still, the daily work stuff continues as it always has and there’s a strong sense of solidarity in the team now. That’s one good thing to come out of the whole sorry situation.

All I can do is wait and see. The situation is out of my hands, I can’t change it.

It’s funny… I had a terrible week at work and spent a lot of time wanting to punch someone in the face but get me out on my bike and it just doesn’t matter. The stress just falls away. The weather on Saturday was – in a word – crappy. But it didn’t matter. I was with people I like, who make me laugh and I was doing something I love. Work is just work, it’s a means to end so I can do the things I actually want to do – like get totally filthy and saturated. Then sit around in damp bike kit, drinking cider at Little Creatures Dining Hall while my companions had a pint.

Sunday was another go-round of the Emerald Bakery Loop. The something bad of this was the stretch between Emerald and Kallista. I have no idea what happened but I was really suffering. I dropped further and further behind, I was gasping for breath and my legs felt like they were about to fall off. It was so incredibly hard and I still don’t know how I managed to get up the really tough section (3kms at about 7 – 9%). I felt sick and exhausted but somehow I did it. I wonder if the climbing is ever going to get easier or if it’ll always be this hard for me. Something good was that I had someone drop behind to stay with me for most of it so I had a wheel to follow.

Still, I had a ball flying down The Wall. When I hit 70km/h I figured I should probably slow down a bit as I was overtaking quite a few people, riders who had been 3 – 5 minutes ahead of me. Got to one corner and all I could smell was burning brake pads from the person who had gone through previously. Every time I get to the bottom of a descent like this I always have the biggest smile on my face. It’s an awesome feeling.

The descent down to Montrose was amazing as always. I don’t think I braked once and I managed to pick and stay on some excellent lines through the corners. I love it, just love it. Thinking about it now is making me smile. There’s nothing like the sensation of speed and the world flying past in a green blur. All those tiny movements you make on the bike which make it lean and shift with you. The bike feels like it’s a part of you, that it’s alive. It’s joy, pure and simple.

Something bad (work) countered by something good (bike and an unexpected development in my private life). The universe likes balance so I suppose this is the way it’ll always be.