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.