GRIMY HAND­SHAKE

Bike (USA) - - Grimy Handshake - PHOTO:RYAN CREARY

seems like a perfect op­por­tu­nity to in­sert a Neil Young lyric: “Grandpa said to cousin Jed/ Sit­ting on the porch/ ‘I won’t re­tire but I might re­tread/ Seems like that guy singing this song/ Been do­ing it for a long time/ Is there any­thing he knows that he ain’t said?’”

Swear to God there’s a Neil Young lyric for ev­ery oc­ca­sion … is there any­thing I know that I ain’t said? Prob­a­bly not, a thou­sand times over. Sooner or later we all start step­ping all over our own thoughts, ev­ery once in a while we might fig­ure out a new way of look­ing through the same old eyes but for the most part, we just keep rid­ing that an­cient rut. Just like this hill, count­ing the pedal strokes and able to ride it in my sleep. Same ol’ same ol’, un­til we run out of heart­beats.

Ex­cept, no. It’s not like that. Be­cause ev­ery time, ev­ery sin­gle time, it’s ever so slightly dif­fer­ent. The sea­son, the day of the week, the hour of the day, the green of the fo­liage, the tex­ture of the dirt, the tem­per­a­ture of the air, the color of the sky, the pace of my breath­ing, the rate of my pulse, the tread on my tires, the size of my wheels, the length of my stem, the rel­a­tive worn out-ness of my chain, and on and on. It’s never ex­actly the same. Ev­ery sin­gle one of those trips up this hill has been unique.

But that’s just how it feels for me. Pull back, look at it from a longer lens, and it’s just some dude rid­ing up the same old hill, at about the same old speed, at monotonously reg­u­lar in­ter­vals, on a bi­cy­cle. Zoom out a lit­tle fur­ther still, and while to you and me this thing we are talk­ing about is def­i­nitely climb­ing a fireroad and eas­ily de­fined as such—and there­fore way dif­fer­ent than de­scend­ing sin­gle­track or hit­ting a jump line or get­ting fed to the pack in a cri­terium—once you get far enough out, it just looks like a lump of meat wear­ing it­self out for no rea­son on a metal thing with wheels. Over and over and over again.

I can raise a toast to that. Here’s to all of us: Cheers, fel­low lumps of meat! Thanks for read­ing th­ese repet­i­tive thoughts and de­volv­ing spi­rals of words and Neil Young lyrics. Cheers to you, in­dif­fer­ent hill! Thank you for ev­ery trip that I’ve taken up you and for any more I may be lucky enough to take again. Salud, old rut! It is good to taste your fa­mil­iar edges, to know you are al­ways there, and to find that for now at least, you aren’t cap­ping your ends and get­ting shorter, deeper, more omi­nous.

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