It’s a stop sign. A red octagon with white letters. And normally this traffic sign is insignificant. It’s a stop sign. You stop, then go. But this stop sign … this one, represented a woo-hoo! moment for me. A holy crap I can’t believe it.
It sits there at the top of a long, winding incline, practically at the top of a mountain. Taunting runners and bikers alike.
Had I attempted to reach the top before, during my previous triathlon training regiment? Yes. Did I make it? The first time I barely reached the 25 MPH sign. The second time … well … the second time I reached the deer-crossing sign and told myself I could do it. And I made it, huffing and puffing and gasping for air, but I made it. It took two attempts and many bike training sessions in between to build up enough endurance to reach the mighty stop sign.
I told myself that this time around I would make multiple trips over there, but seeing how it had been raining last week, and then hitting temperatures of 102 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit the week before, I hadn’t gotten around to as much bike riding as I wanted.
But I needed to cowboy up, because in my last triathlon Devil’s Canyon kicked my ass, and I didn’t want a repeat performance. Although I’m not sure what the bike course looks like in this race, I’m certain they’ve got hills and mountains. So this weekend I busted out my two-wheeler, with its new tires, and hit the pavement.
Now I wasn’t planning on visiting that crazy hill with its stop sign today. It had been a rough morning and emotions were running high in the Guat household. In truth, when I left the house I was thinking of riding about five or six miles and then just heading over to the 7-11 for some chocolate, but found myself riding to the state park instead, looking at that crazy hill and its mighty stop sign. As I stood there, I noticed all these racing bikes whiz right by me and I thought … oh hell no, even if I don’t have Gatorade I’m going up there.
I found myself pedaling towards that crazy hill and the stop sign.
Now once I got to the 25 MPH sign I thought yeah … I’m feeling pretty good. I haven’t even shifted gears, but once I got to the deer-crossing sign I began contemplating just turning around. My quads had not prepared for a ride of such magnitude and altitude. But I kept going. I kept saying, just one more sign, or just one more tree and I’ll turn back.
However, I just kept going. And in truth it wasn’t the upcoming triathlon that was fueling my inspiration to reach that pinche stop sign. It was the family drama that took place that very morning that pushed my Guat butt up that hill. My frustration and anger fueled me all the way to the top. All I could think was if I made it to the top at least something positive would have happened to me that morning. I would have a happy, triumphant moment among the crappiness.
And you know what? Anger works, man.
I reached the top passing all the racing bikes that had zoomed by me earlier. I got off my bike and smiled. I grabbed hold of that stop sign, while trying to catch my breath. I stood there for a moment. Red-faced, sweaty, huffing and puffing. And victorious. I had made it on my first attempt. And it felt good. Real good. I don’t know how it’s going to feel tomorrow, but today it felt good.
Some random couple drove by as I was feeling the thrill of conquering that crazy hill and reaching the mighty stop sign. They looked at the bike, then at me, and smiled. It felt pretty good to have a random stranger give me an imaginary high-five with a glance.
However as I was taking deep breaths, in order to try and catch my breath, I didn’t get a whiff of fresh mountain air that athletes need after such a victory. My oxygen was tainted. Tainted with the smell of fresh horse manure. And not just a little bit either. I think they were giving a group tour or something because there was a definite aroma in the vicinity.
So I grabbed my bike and made my way down hill. I wish I could have stayed a little bit longer and relish in the moment, you know, take it all in, but unfortunately horse crap isn’t really my thing. And it wasn’t great for my deep-breathing victorious moment either. Maybe next time will be better.