Saturday, July 9, 2005

The bike ride

So I did it. Again. Well, technically for the third time. And it all reminded me of Aristotle, somehow.

Courage, in modern time, involves facing something that makes you tremble, and overcoming that fear. To achieve despite the fear. The greater the threshold of intimidation, the greater the resulting hero.

Aristotle would not have been amused.

He maintained that true heroism meant being absolutely unfazed, no internal conflicts or overcoming latent angst, while doing the deed. So for the hero, it really isn't the effort, because it is in that sense effortless. His heros just are heros, they don't swallow their apprehensions and become heros.

You see, I was feeling more than a little apprehensive before the race. I am 15 pounds heavier than last year. I have biked less than 10% of the distance I had covered the same time last year. My wasted knees and once-broken ankle have been acting up on me lately. The list goes on. I was worried.

And then I woke up. It was not just raining. It was literally pouring. One of those I-can't-belive-it's-really-raining-this-hard downpours. The heat had dropped below 60, for the first time in weeks.

But I stubbornly talked myself through it. Got up at 5:30. Stretched. Ate my last carbo-load. Put on the cold biking outfit. Stretched some more, while I waited for my biking partners. Followed them up to the starting place. Took a deep breath before exiting the car. And became drenched just while taking the bike out of the trunk. I know that I will laugh at this claim come wintertime, but it was cold. There were many bewildered bikers there, standing in the rain. Quite a few stayed in their cars, others returned to them. But my partners calmly followed my lead and took out their bikes. And then, quietely and without fuzz, it came time to head out.

One hundred miles, countless powerbars and bottles of gatorade, and more than eight hours later, we got back up that hill. I was euphoric. My endorphines had kicked in hard around mile 85, and after that I was high on life. Utterly. My partners where, characteristically, calmer about the whole affair.

But we did it. Despite everything. And it actually felt good. Good? Hell, it felt great! We stole the time. Just for one day.

And we were heroes.

Just for one day.