As we speed past the slowing cyclists, we approach the hill that may take them 20 or 30 minutes to climb. The engine revs and bucks as the car accelerates up the inclined, 7% grade.
There is a whine in the car, but not of the engine, of my heart. I want to feel the wind and the heat press my body as my legs churn the road to butter. My pedals and crank spin and spin, and the inches, we move in inches, and smaller still–slide by. I watch the bagged frames flex with weight as the cyclists push, bent over handlebars, their leather seats worn from days of use.
I know, they know, the hill is the reward as much as the view at the top or the speeding way down the other side. The hill makes us sweat, makes the muscles, legs burn and these difficulties are the ones that make the view more vivid. The sweeping coastline out before those who have bled for the view is more vivid, knowing you have earned it.
The 101 of the West Coast, has a work to reward ratio better than any other cycled road in the United States, I believe, if not the world. The hills take no longer than 30 minutes, perhaps an hour if you are taking your time, which you should. On cycling tours my philosophy has always been that if you aren’t having fun, you are pushing too hard, cycling too fast. Slow down to feel the breeze, the slow drip of sweat from your brow, the aching in your legs recedes and you are met with this realization that everything you have done up to this point fits into a small box and could be stored in a 5X5 storage unit and the road that humps and curves has it’s own voice–one so much more vast than yours, and the ocean you look out over even more so.
And that is when you ask yourself why you’ve lived the way you have. Always searching for that fulfillment from things that were easy. The low work-high pay job that, even if it existed, would leave you empty inside. When you vacation, adventure, you do so with effort in mind. I vacation with effort in mind. Everything uncomfortable is a desire that burns within me as much as the burning of worked muscles that burns without. Those sky waters and mountain-rugged rocks of the 101 are calling to me. What eyes are searching for my vacant gaze as I peer across the Pacific? Can they feel my reach as I feel theirs? And I know we are not so far apart.