Monday, October 17, 2011
The Praying Mantis
Once again, I was seeing a hill that only a cyclist would see, and feeling a wind that only a cyclist would feel. The grade was about 2 to 3%, and while this wasn't the hardest hill of the day, it was the "hill" that I was "suffering" on at the moment, and so I felt tormented by it. I started to wonder exactly how a crosswind could feel like a headwind. I started to wonder what it would be like to ride somewhere that was flat. Florida maybe, or the high plains of Eastern New Mexico and West Texas.
That reminded me of my friend Andrea, that really dislikes the windmill farms that have sprouted up all over West Texas. They are there now by the thousands. And for miles. Miles and miles. The cotton is gone. The farmers there decided some time ago that it would be easier and more profitable (?) to turn the billiard table flat, and always windy fields, over the the windmills.
Windmill Farms. I've been told they aren't producing any electricity. How can that be? There's plenty of them and days and days of stiff, unrelenting wind. The terrain around Lubbock is flatter than flat, like a billiard table, except if you stand on your tippy toes, you can see the curvature of the earth. What would it be like to ride there? Would I see a hill that no one else sees?
As I turn south, toward home, I'm finding joy in the fact that the hill is gone. I marvel at how something so small as a 2 to 3% grade can make something another level of hard. The leaves remind me of the chemical changes that are occuring in the muscles in my legs - of how I produce energy - and how the byproduct of that process can create some real serious pain. How much can I take? I'm not going to find out today. Again. I wonder what the limit is as a headwind grinds on me even more than the slight incline was grinding on me a moment ago. Sometimes I'm greatful for the small ring, even as I secretly hope that no one sees me using it on a flat road, and hoping even harder for the opportunity to shift out of it as soon as possible.
There is no more green in my legs just like there is no more cotton in West Texas. I'm running out of energy just like the leaves. My legs are yellow and orange. I feel like if I were to stop pedaling, I would fall over in short order. Is anyone else feeling this wind? What is harder, wind or hills? Or windy hills? Lots of huffing and puffing now, just like the windmill farms. Lots of yellow and orange packages are showing in my legs. Just like the leaves, the tired has always been there in my legs but the 1877 feet of climbing, the unrelenting headwind, the 11/23 cassette, the standard crank, the 20 pound bike, my 20 extra pounds, that last little 2 to 3% grinder, the effort, focus and extra energy required to spot a praying mantis where I thought I saw a leaf, swerve and miss it at the last second - it has all conspired to take tired from a level of minimal, if any perception, to one of being light-headed, seeing spots and wishing that the mitochondria in my quads, calves and hamstrings had a little more to work with right now.
I am happy when I get home. I am happy to give my legs a rest. I am happy that I feel like I accomplished something on the bike today. And, I am happy that I missed the praying mantis on the road. I wonder if I'll see it tomorrow?
Posted by Steve Wilson