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Mom’s Question

Jul 8th, 2011 | By | Category: Blog, Travel

My mom has been reading my blog from my Ciclismo Classico tour of the Alps and the Dolomites. In an email yesterday, she commented and asked the following:

I am enjoying your blogs.  They are very informative and make me want to see this part if Italy but without the pain and suffering.  Do cyclists at your level really enjoy this or is it the thrill of conquering the mountain that makes you do it?

I answered by saying the following:

Despite all my whining about the pain and suffering, the answer to your question is yes, cyclists at my level do enjoy this. It’s not the pain and suffering that we enjoy, but rather the challenge, the scenery, and conquering rides that usually only the pros complete.

I’m sure you all have other reasons why you put yourselves through the pain and suffering, right? Please answer in the comments section below and let me know what you would have answered.


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  1. Good question by your mom! Short answer: yes, we do enjoy it very much. It’s a different kind of pain and suffering, though. It’s camaraderie, getting there together. It’s breathing the fresh air deeply…it might burn the lungs, but it reminds us that we’re alive and really, truly there. Nothing else in the world matters at that moment. Leave any petty life challenges home for awhile. Experience every moment, the scenery keeps changing, notice the little bird or pretty tree. Smell the wild flowers. It’d all just be a blur if we were flying by in a car. The adrenaline of making it to the top is a tremendous feeling and the absolutely best part is after it’s all over: taking a shower and going out after to trade war stories and enjoy a well-deserved meal is worth every difficult pedal stroke and all of that pain and suffering.

  2. Very well said, Patria! I was thinking some of the same things on my ride today up three major passes in the Dolomites. I would much rather be doing this than driving around in a car or playing golf. There simply is no better way to become immersed in a country, meet its people, and become intimately familiar with the landscape.

    How would the rest of you answer?

  3. The pain and suffering are temporary. The satisfaction of having conquered that mountain, hill, (fill in the blank) lasts a lifetime. For me it gives me the perspective to push through other life challenges that are not so pleasant. Like a friend of mine says “when you’re goof through hell, don’t stop.” On a bike tour a few years ago, I truly learned the meaning of bonk. It was over 100 F on the road and turning the pedals one more time was a challenge, but I made it and am stronger for having done it. So yes, I do enjoy it and yes, it’s about conquering the mountain. Kinda like having you cake and eat it too.

  4. It’s a great question (and hi there, Mama Fredcast!) – and as you know, David, I’m keenly aware of your aversion to any ride that has any allusion to “misery, death, etc.” in the title. Yet there you are, at the Maratona in some of the most challenging terrain on Earth, ready to give it a go. So here’s my logic behind it all:

    Why did Sir Edmund Hillary climb Everest? The common answer is “because it is there.” But I really think he relished the challenge.

    I enjoy the challenge of the tough hills and the distance. It can be painful, for sure, and there are many times when your biggest foe is your psyche: telling you to quit, that the pain is too much, and so forth. The challenge is overcoming these urges, soldiering on to the top or the finish, and the accomplishment of pulling this off. When you make it to the top of a high mountain pass, the view is often other-worldly, and the resultant descent is a tasty dessert. Likewise, when you cross the finish line, the euphoria and adrenaline are a potent elixir, masking the pain and suffering (whether real or perceived) just endured.

    I’ve certainly been defeated by a long challenge ride. I’ve bonked, I’ve cramped, I’ve crashed out. And all that does is steel my resolve to come back and get my comeuppance! The challenge is still there, perhaps renewed just a bit.

    Sure, it’s not everybody’s cuppa, but for cyclists, “enjoying the ride” comes in all forms – including a healthy dose of pain from the challenge!

    ENJOY THE RIDE, David!

  5. The adrenaline really is an amazing buzz, and it’s the buzz of health!

    The endorphins that flow through the body going up these hills are so intense. They seem to help expand one’s alertness and attentiveness. The fresh air, the wind, the sights, sounds and smells are all so vivid during a ride like this.

    It makes me feel truly alive. And the feeling of complete relaxation and satisfaction afterwards is something to live for.

    Also, it’s a nice feeling to stay trim and fit as one grows older. It gives me confidence and makes me feel good about myself. And my lover likes it, too!