Author Topic: going down


going down
« on: May 22, 2008 »

Born in the flatlands of northern Ohio, I adore hills. Going up them. Going down, not so keen. Freewheeling is lovely. Hurtling adunweard at eye-watering velocity on 23mm tyres with little margin for error should a pothole or a stone and its gravelly mates be loitering in exactly the wrong place is less of a rapturous experience.

Growing up not too far from an amusement park gave me an appreciation for rollercoasters. Ah, Blue Streak. Corkscrew. Gemini, where you 'raced' cars on parallel tracks. Untold hours of heaving fun, once you learned to trust the panoply of experts who had put you there: the ride conceptualizer; architect; builder; maintainance crew; the amusement park company; marketing department; your parents for letting you on the thing. With such an awesome safety net I had no real fear of flying.

Given my background, a few decades of seasoning should now see me in an aero-tuck, muscles loosey-goosey before settling into alert anticipation for when the ground drops beneath my saddle. Instead I caress the brake levers, squeezing somewhere around (wild computerless guess) the 25mph mark.

Going up, on the other hand, is where I feel true enjoyment start to seep in. The faster it gets steeper, the happier I am. Gentle gradients which tease for miles hold no attraction. Nor am I hardcore masochist: a ride composed chiefly of the high notes does not make my heart flutter in anticipation. However, I feel much more of a sense of satisfaction when I've had to do some push-ups by grabbing the handlebars as they help me tame that bitch.* Too far?

I am a lucky man: acf HQ is tucked into a landscape blessed with curves galore, including Brightling, complete with Jack's column on top (which doesn't much interest me) and a pyramid to help recharge those life-giving forces. Ditchling Beacon, which I like to imagine I can just about see from the top, once let me do it with her three five times in a row. Although I don't smoke, I felt a powerful urge to afterwards. At least I think that's what the wheezing was about.

So here's to hills: Hit me baby one more time.

* There is a deceptively vicious gradient nearby which my wife has officially named Bitch Hill