Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The punishment you can take

I haven’t seen the last Rocky movie, but I have heard the big quote from the movie: “boxing’s not about how much punishment you can dish out, it’s about how much punishment you can take.”

When you cycle the way I do, on an old piece of shit mountain bike, with a frame that is too heavy and too small for you, you are not training for the tour de France. Yes, you can get some nice speed on the down-hills. You can do some gnarly climbs, especially up on the North end of Manhattan. But you are not training for speed. You would not ride this bike in a triathlon, even one you were just trying to complete. I use my bike to commute as much as anything, keep myself healthy and build up some lower-body strength. Training through cycling, the way I do it, is about endurance, about how much pain you can endure by the end of the day and still keep going. It is about whether or not at mile 28 you can find a burst of speech to get you through the park quickly. But on a day like today, clear and cold with those wicked Hudson winds blowing, it is about more than that. It is about just finishing. A bad thing about riding the bike to City College: it is a sixteen mile trip (a bit longer today because of where I started and ended). The first half, or nearly, is my  commute to BMCC. I go through the park, down Vanderbilt to Carroll to Smith. I make my way to the Brooklyn Bridge, cross that, and cross Manhattan to Chambers and West. There are two good, tough climbs, counting the bridge. But after that it is an easy shot up the West Side Highway.  It is flat for eight or nine miles and then you hit the hill at the end that CCNY is perched atop. There are also few stop lights and none once you are above 59th street. But that flat runs right along the Hudson. Funny thing about those cold Hudson Hawks, they blow off shore in the mornings and onshore in the evenings. This means I have to fight a biting cold (and today fierce) headwind both directions. Today was the worst though. The winds were gusting as I rode through the park. They were in my face as I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. A couple of times the gusts stopped me in my tracks. On days like this it is all about enduring the fatigue and pain, about pushing yourself to the limit, and as I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, trudging up hill into a headwind, I kept saying to myself “this is for Crown. This is for Gregor. This is for Marcus. This is for Kenrick,” and on and on, and I felt like Lou Ferigno in Pumping Iron, doing his hammer curls and screaming “Arnold! Arnold! Arnold!” 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So - good hunting!