Pedal Strike

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September 9th, 2009

labored breathing

Freshman year of college, my neighbor used to get it on with his girlfriend at the weirdest time of day. In the early afternoon hours, my room mate would point to the wall and we would hear labored grunting. From him. His girlfriend remained ominously silent.

It was sort of creepy. Too bad I make those same grunting noises, peppered with gasping sighs, when climbing hills on my preferred ride route. That plus all the sweating and the whole one gear thing and it’s easy to see why I opt to suffer alone.

But when a best friend is in town – the kind that will not bat an eye at the sight of me pushing the pedals on the rollers at 7am and instead offer to make coffee – well, I’ll make exceptions.


So for the first time in forever, I actually didn’t sit in front of a computer or a book on Labor Day. I planted my ass on my Brooks instead and pedaled a little over 40 miles [the first time I’ve done over 30 in about two months…the shame, I know] with the kind of company that won’t drop me.

And, of course, the kind of company I’m totally comfortable grunting and gasping in front of. Out of the saddle on the climb that tends to kill me, I was inevitably making those kinds of noises that are completely acceptable when you’re torturing yourself alone but are slightly inappropriate when you’re with company. And just when I was in no shape to tell him to fuck off:

“Wow. You’re either having a really good time or a really bad time,” M1 commented.


My retort ended in a laugh/cough combo as he literally pushed me – sputtering and gasping for him to cut it out because that was cheating – the last five feet of the climb. A few more hills, a dead sprint at the slow-for-anyone-but-me speed of 22mph, and we were at Arlington in record time. I was ready to pass the fuck out.



Famished but reluctant to let the beautifully perfect weather slip away, we made a quick detour to a place that didn’t look like anything Boston or New York City. And winding our way around part of the Minute Man National Historic Park, I also managed to forget how dead tired I was.

Hours later, slowly savoring espresso bean ice cream from 3 Scoops, I realized that I had forgotten all about the grunting, too. Which is not only testament to the strength of my short-term memory, but also how I couldn’t care less. At least not with the company I was with.

Because when I quoted the last line of Casablanca to M1 way back in May, I really meant it.

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  • 1 Chris Sep 9, 2009 at 11:48 am

    I think you just invented a new euphemism: “climbing hills on my preferred ride route”.