27 November 2010

The Fun Factor

When pain feels so right
Riding a bike is so fun. It also hurts - a lot sometimes. But even when the pain is great there always remains an element of pure fun, after all I am riding a bike. Perhaps it is the opposing forces that are so fulfilling to my body and mind.
My brother recently sent this photo to me from the VeloNews Reader Gallery submitted by Ken Dawson on Nov 22, 2010. The photo is of Chris Horner. My brother thought it captured perfectly this idea that here is a racer competing in the Tour de France and obviously hurting, and yet isn't that a smile on his face? I don't think he was posing for this photo - he was enjoying himself. Look closely and you will notice that most cyclists are enjoying themselves. It is what gets us out there time and again.
Looking back over the years I began to think about the times I experienced this ultimate combo when the pain and fun were so intertwined that I was not aware of either but instead seemed to float on my bike. I recall those rides on:
Mount Ventoux, France: east side from Sault to the summit
Cottonwood Pass, Colorado: from Crested Butte to Buena Vista
The Lancets, Alps, France: to Col du Chaussy a short but fun switchback road
Col du Soulor to Col d'Aubisque, France: a highway in heaven
Hourquettes d'Ancizan, Pyrenees: from Ancizan to the Col d'Aspin
Foxen and Ballard Canyon, Solvang, California: vineyards 
These are the times when I never asked "when will this be over," because I didn't want the ride to be over anytime soon.

Here's the fun point: you too can ride these rides, or watch them as a fan. Cottonwood Pass will be included in the 2011 Quiznos Pro Challenge. Col du Soulor and Col d'Aubisque and the Hourquettes d'Ancizan will all be in the 2011 Tour de France. Ballard Canyon will be in the 2011 Tour of California. I'll be watching to see if the Pros will be smiling while riding those roads. I bet they will.