Sunday, June 27, 2010

What Would J.I. Do?

It was about 50 minutes into what was an intense, grueling bike ride. Well, at least that's how I viewed it. For Joanne and our friend Margaret, both of whom happen to be in excellent shape, it was almost the conclusion of a flat as a pancake trip of about 10 miles in total. While they chatted and rolled forward effortlessly throughout our journey, I was trying to 'draft' behind them, to lessen the almost Herculean effort that was taking place, at least in my mind. I spoke little and pretended that I was as able as they.

The only hill we would confront, would come at the 50 minute point. To me, it looked like the monster they refer to as Heartbreak Hill, at the 20 mile mark of the Boston Marathon. In reality, if Lance Armstrong cycles up mountains that are rated 10 out of 10 in difficulty, this would have registered no more than a 2. To call this a hill was really an insult to all true hills.

The 'climb' was maybe a quarter of mile or so. There was actually a way to flatten this out by taking a road that branched off from the main street, meandered back and forth, and eventually led, in a circuitous manner, to the top. Jo chose this route, thus turning our 2 into maybe 1 1/2.

Jo and Margaret moved through and up, quickly and without thought. I began my ascent by putting my gear at the easiest setting. With each turn of the pedal, I became a little more fatigued. My companions had already completed the route and here I was, imperceptably moving forward, the goal still in the distance.

Then it hit me. "What would J.I do" I thought to myself. "What would J.I. do?"

John Isner had just finished playing in the most incredible match in the history of tennis, and maybe the most incredible test of human endurance and fortitude since sports was invented. He had played about 5000 games of tennis, or so it seemed, in one match. As the history books will recall it, he ate, drank and slept while playing tennis for 3 days. This was the ultimate in willing oneself up to the top of the mountain.

Now, it was as if J.I. was pushing me forward. "Don't get off that bike" he yelled in my ear. "Don't you dare get off that bike".

In what must have been a record for the slowest time ever recorded in getting to the top of this little street on a bike, I triumphed. At the apex, I nonchalantly sipped from my water bottle, and then mostly coasted the last few hundred yards to the apartment complex. Jo and Margaret had already put their bikes away as I came to a halt in front of our garage.

"Good ride" I told them. As Margaret hurried off, to get ready for her next activity, a lengthy 'power walk', I stumbled up the steps to the apartment. With J.I. now on my side, who knows where this may lead. I am ready for anything. Except maybe biking straight up that hill.

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