Three stories about “Tough + Fun”

Published 2010-04-02


This morning when I got the trailer loaded up in POURING FRICKING RAIN I thought “today is a ‘tough’ day, not a ‘fun’ day.” Before we even left the driveway I was defeating myself. I started up the street with this totally beat-down attitude, I had to stand on my pedals for the first hill and then Orion shouted “GO DADDY GO!” Suddenly I felt like Superman. Fun and Tough go together, the tougher I am the more fun it is. This was one of the wettest commutes I’ve had all winter and I got to work loving it. But if I hadn’t adjusted my mental state (OK, if Orion hadn’t adjusted it for me), it might have been pure misery. Same bike, same guy, same rain, different mental models.


Back when I started riding kinda sorta seriously — about eight years ago, and parenthetically my life was a total wreck — I was living in NW PDX. One day I saw Council Crest park on a map and decided to ride my bike there, knowing it was going to be all uphill. Man, was I overmatched. I made it to about Ainsworth school (about halfway up) and had to stop. My clothes were just soaked with sweat, I couldn’t breathe, it was really pathetic. I saw someone else riding up Vista and decided I was gonna lick that hill and I wasn’t gonna push my bike. If I got tired, I was going to stop and take a break until I was cool enough to get on the bike again. So with one more stop (around Patton) and another (maybe somewhere on Greenway?) I made it all the way up. The next time I rode up that hill I stopped only once, maybe around Fairmount? The third time I rode up that hill I didn’t stop until I reached the top. In about 3 weeks I went from zero to hero. Maybe not even a month later I rode my bike solo down the OR coast. You don’t have to be tough to conquer hills, you conquer hills and become tough. And it happens much quicker than you might expect.


Greg LeMond famously said “it never gets easier, you just go faster.” There’s a metaphor for life right there. From my perspective, it’s easier to add 60 minutes to my commute than to find 60 minutes for yoga. In the summer my 7 mile commute will balloon to 20+ miles. I already have to go work, right? By the same token, I’m not spending money on yoga anymore, and having only one car saves us $6000/yr. So: hills, time, money ... obstacles like that are crucibles. Crucibles wherein you purify your perceptions: of your body, money, time, values, life.

About five years ago, I got a gig out by Tannesborne (about 15mi from where we were living at the time), it didn’t even occur to me not to ride my bike there. One day I drove for some reason, and I couldn’t believe how far it was. 30 minutes in a car felt way longer than an hour on a bike. Somehow riding a bike dilates time for me, I feel like the more I ride the more of it I have.