Vertical limit


This is my world: no flat road to be seen;
A jagged country chipped from ancient stone.
Not high, my hills, but fierce, their ramps and walls
Burned deep in heart and lungs, their contours carved
In calves and quads. Then every hard-won inch
Is gleefully abandoned on the drop;
Hard hauling to the roof, a deep-drawn breath
Then hurled down to the basement. And repeat.
Why seek so hard a road? What rare reward
Lies in such fruitless work? In desperate days
Where all seems doomed and doors are slamming shut
To take it on, eyes open, willingly
Endure a needless hardship and survive
Is proof we’re living yet. And in control.



Went out and rode one of my more egregiously hilly routes today. Not especially long (about 24 miles) and tops out at a mere 623 feet, but packs in a lot of climbing and descending. Nothing like it for clearing out a cluttered mind. N.

2 thoughts on “Vertical limit

  1. Thank you, Tom. I worry sometimes that the whole ‘bike ride as metaphor for life’ trope has been strip-mined for so long there’s nothing left in it, so I’m reassured by your kind assay of today’s little nugget! N.

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