You shift down a few gears expecting things to get easier, but they don’t. Your lungs still burn and your legs still scream at you. You take the Jens Voigt route and half-heartedly mutter “shut up legs,” but nothing changes so you keep going.
At this point, the only thing keeping you moving forward is the thought of the top. The fact that every mountain has a peak, and that this climb is no exception. And finally it comes and not a moment too soon. Maybe you unclip from your pedals to enjoy the view, or maybe you just coast for a while and catch your breath before you start the descent. Either way you’ve made it. You’re at the top. Another mountain defeated.
I often question why I ride my bike every time I climb up and over a mountain. I ask myself if the pain and the hours are worth it. If coming home feeling defeated and broken is really worth all the effort I put into riding my bike, but when I reflect upon the day’s journey, I realize that a sense of accomplishment is priceless. Many a time I’ve sat down on the side of the road while the blood in my legs inches its way back and forth, wondering if I had the energy to make it back home. But on the days when I glide in after spending 5+ hours in the saddle I know that all those bad days were mere stepping-stones along the way to get me to the level that I am at now.
Conquering mountains is not fun. It’s daunting and tiring, but at the end of the day when I lay my head to down to rest, the realization that I was strong enough to endure is what makes me want to get up the next morning and ride even harder.