Most places, the minutes stream by unnoticed. Not here. At the base of the hill, I shift down to a lower gear, thankful the bike is light and so am I. Out of the saddle, hot sun on my neck, I stand on the pedals and haul myself up by driving them down. Here you focus on the moment, not how far, how steep. Halfway up this sloping span of road, I feel a sudden jolt of jitters when the front wheel slips slightly sideways on a narrow strip of softened tar. Then the road curves right and rises relentlessly, and though it's not the Galibier, it's enough to leave this would-be grimpeur panting. I wind the steady tick-tick-tick of legs thrusting down hard on pedals, inching toward the granite slab that marks the peak. Here, every second breathes along with me.
Copyright 2007 by Brian Dean Powers