Monday, April 9, 2012

Riding in the hills

First, Easter was a bust for me because it rained most of the day. What I mean is, I was going to try to see the cart blow up but I didn't feel like getting wet so I didn't even step out the door. It was a little frustrating, but there's always next year.

Today the skies were clear and the sun was shining. After softening me up with a pleasurable and lazy morning in bed Leif told me to get dressed for a bike ride. At some point I must have agreed that I should start learning to climb the hills around here or I'll never get to ride anywhere fun. I don't remember this, but he's sneaky. He probably stuck it onto the end of a question he knew I'd say yes to (much like politicians who attach crazy ideas to sensible bill in order to get said craziness passed.) What he probably said was "Would you like pizza for dinner tonight..." and while I'm saying yes and thinking yummy thoughts about what kind of pizza to get he says under his breath "...and go for a ride in the hills sometime?" And it's too late, the yes has already slipped out.

So we headed out into the far too crisp morning air for my introduction to biking in the hills of Tuscany. I'm from the flatlands of Minnesota, where it's possible to see tomorrow's weather today by simply looking to the west. My definition of hills and his definition are vastly different. For future reference, my definition is realistic, his is insane.

It could have been worse, I suppose. On my first big hill we discovered that my bike doesn't like to switch into the granny gear, so halfway up the hill I was dying and had to walk it up the rest of the way. Humiliating? Perhaps. A few slight adjustments to the shift stuff and onward to the next hill. Which went a lot better, thank you very much.

Halfway up this hill I started to laugh, because I realized that people actually pay him to drag them up and down hills they probably wouldn't even think of riding at home, where ever that might be. Now that's crazy. At least I didn't have to pay him to watch while I sweated and panted and swore at him for dragging me up yet another hill. OK, I might be exaggerating a little bit. It was too cold to sweat.

I've figured out that Leif has a kind of code for the hills when he describes them to clients. Riding to a "beautiful view" means a hill that almost anyone can climb, eventually."Panoramic views" are for real bike riders who don't shudder at the sight of an incline. Thank goodness they're panoramic, you can take endless pictures while you gasp for air and calm your heart."Breath taking views" are just that. Views that can be reached but because you're too busy trying to get your breath back you can't see it. Doesn't help that the air is so thin at those altitudes either. I'm pretty sure the hills today can't even be described as "beautiful view" hills. Chances are they would be best described as hills that get you over the tree tops, but not much more.

My only shining moment was on a hill that he told me I would probably have to walk up. Not only did I ride the whole hill, I passed him up. Just cuz I could, and I'm stubborn. Now that I think back on it, he probably told me that on purpose. See what I mean, he's sneaky.

P.S. We rode 30 kilometers and 250 meters of climbing all before lunch. Pretty sure I can do better than that next time.

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