Monday, February 27, 2012

Climb like a Cannonball

There is something about climbing that most cyclists are genuinely drawn to.  Perhaps it's the mythical and vivid associations we get from watching the Grand Tours or the sharp cobbled pitches of the Spring Classics?  Maybe it's just as simple as the sense of accomplishment or the cool view at the top. I don't know.  What I do know is that almost every cyclist likes climbing so that makes all of them a climber.  But as climbers go there are different levels of ability.

For instance, there are Great climbers that can float up any hill straight to the clouds. Then there are Good climbers that can jam their way up anything fast but don't often beat a great climber up the Vert.  Decent climbers are next and they have to red-line it up every hill longer than 4 minutes but on a good day can hang with a good climber but never a great climber.  Average climbers come a little further down the list but they can still get up anything, eventually, but prefer to ride within the majority number of every group for company.  And lastly there are the Poor climbers.  These guys labor like death up every hill longer than150 meters and spend most of their time together at this at this thing called a velodrome.

I'm a Decent climber, I can go up stuff pretty hard & for a long time but I suffer.  I think Decent climbers suffer more than other climbers because we're just good enough to imagine that we can hang with the better guys and we almost always try.  Then we pay the price in magnified pain.  I wouldn't keep doing this to myself without a built in mind mechanism to help me detach from this pain. My mechanism has always been music. I think everyone has a different one.  Music is mine.  It comes existentially, to help me accept/surrender/embrace the suffering. I don't even have to think about it.

Today was day two of some really challenging riding; opportunity riding, if you will.  It was hard.  Yesterdays wind made it harder riding than today's climbing loop but there were a few good & great climbers today that just floated away from me as we rode up a long & steep mountain road.

As I watched them separate away from me I told myself that I was climbing like a cannonball.  This was negative and got me down for a sec until the lyrics 'Float like a cannonball' from Damien Rices song Cannonball settled in my head.  Then I started humming the tune and digging into the climbing.  Told myself I might be a cannonball but I can float.

Stones taught me to fly, Love taught me to lie, Life taught me to die, So it's not hard to fall, When you float like a cannonball.

I got to the top not too, too far behind the guys. This was because I never came off the gas.  I settled into the pain and enjoyed it.  I could easily have quit if I let that first negative thought take hold but I was able to detach.  Whatever gets you there.

Peace & Roll strong.


  1. Then there are those of us cyclists who are just not climbers, and have never played one on TV.

  2. "Decent climbers" I do think I fall into this group. What you forget to say is once to the top the Decent climber will always catch the great climber on the descend. because a decent climber knows how much time he can give to the great climber before he know he will lose them. So unless the finish line is on top, a decent rider will always be there at the end sprinting it out with a great climber. I put my money on a decent climber over a great climber in a sprint.