Picture this: You’re on a leisurely bike ride when, all of a sudden, you feel a miniscule escalation in incline and now, instead of rolling along carefree, you actually have to put some pressure behind your pedals, and feel your leg muscles kind of activate.
That’s what happened to me this past Saturday and, even though I am now safely nestled on my couch within the comfort of my own home, I am still left wondering: Why me?
I bike for the breeze on my face and to maybe get an ice cream at the end. I do not bike to test the physical limitations of man, to see how long a person can move slowly up a gradual slope until their heart, lungs, legs, and will simultaneously give out. I am not a scientist. I am not a god.
So when the ground below me began to gently curve upward, in what was more of a suggestion of an incline than an actual incline, I thought to myself: “What could I have possibly done to deserve this?”
I tried to shift to a lower gear, but all that did was make me look like a clown, fruitlessly pedaling at a cartoonishly fast pace while barely even moving forward up the “hill.”
A mom walked past me pushing her stroller at what looked to be a leisurely pace while she chatted on the phone. What I wouldn’t have given to possess her lung capacity. A dog sniffed at my wheels and then kept walking. A kind older gentleman offered to give me a boost. I snarled at him to mind his own business and then had to remind myself that how I act at my lowest is not who I am.
I was hunched over, a shell of the human I once was.
A big hill would’ve been better than what I was experiencing. Then, at least, I could get off my bike and walk it up the hill with some dignity. However, this hill? One with an almost nonexistent incline, noticeable to no one but me and my burning thighs? There was no way I could get off my bike and walk without everyone in my immediate vicinity calling me a coward and condemning my glute strength.
Thus, I was forced to bike steadily forward for what felt like an eternity until the ground eventually plateaued and I was finally free. I barely made it to the ice cream store before barely making it home.
Needless to say, I learned my lesson and will never be biking anywhere except in little circles in my driveway ever again. It’s not worth the pain, and I am afraid of the person I become in the middle of a modest incline.