Ode to Wind

you can take my breath away
and keep me pedaling in your sway
but i’m not the kind who would give in
to a kick-the-butt, taunting wind.

you should know your metaphor
opening and closing every door
but really for me it’s just a ride
no matter how you try to skin my hide.

i will say that you tried your best
to strip me down and make me rest
but you’ve forgotten how strong i am
how rigorous i set my training program.

you’ll never know the miles i track
how hard i work to fight you back
how i tell myself that if i can beat you
that mountaintop will be mine to chew.

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Training for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic

If you have decided to take the plunge and commit yourself to gaining 6000 feet in elevation while you race the Durango-Silverton train fifty miles to the top of a mountain, follow these steps to have a successful bicycle event.

1. Plan to train for at least fourteen weeks, at least six days a week.
2. Set your alarm for 4:30 a.m. Don’t push the snooze button. Ever.
3. Put on your appropriate bicycle gear. If you are riding on a trainer in your house, you’ll need bike gloves, bike shorts, and a decent pair of sneakers. If you’re riding outside in the winter, wear all of the above and add long underwear, bike pants, two long-sleeved bike jerseys, warmer gloves, a hat, and a helmet.
4. Mount your bicycle and, if you’re riding a trainer, set it for the highest level of resistance, and shift your derailleur to the highest possible gear. If you’re riding outside, map out a course that includes a circle with huge, steep hills in almost all directions.
5. Ride for at least fifteen miles for five days a week, and on the sixth day, ride for twenty-five, twenty-seven, twenty-nine, etc., until you reach fifty on the twelfth Saturday of training.
6. Taper off your training by ten percent between weeks twelve and thirteen so that your muscles have time to rest and build up.
7. In week fourteen, ride only three days for fifteen miles each time.
8. Drive to Durango. You’re ready to climb a mountain!

Heat

from pedals that won’t stop
for an hour battle uphill,
dry air pumping out of vents
trying to stave off winter,
muscles taut on my thighs
and hard-as-rocks calves,
the heat emanates,
even after sliding off the bike.

a lukewarm shower rinses
off bits of sweat, but it pops back
on my upper lip, my neck,
before i’ve even finished drying,
a reminder of how hot it will be,
how endlessly the pressure will build
as the heat of a May morning
rides with me to the top of the mountain.

Writing My Bike

it came to me in the summer.
Writing My Bike:
this should be the name of my new blog.
will i only write when i ride?
will i only ride when i write?

winter’s creeping in
with bitter cold mornings
that make my pedals run stiffly,
my layered legs tight with frost,
my mittened hands gripping
the first wisps of light on early mornings.

He may try, but Jack Frost can’t deter me.
i’ll be writing my bike to the top
of a mountain in May (racing a train),
and i need these legs to pedal me
through everything that will come
between now and then.

Thinking

i may not see it through their eyes
or feel it through their legs
but the mountain lures me
and i can already sense the wind at my back
hear the spinning rubber on pavement
the thin air tightening in my lungs
and the sweet smell of pine calling me home.

it may seem crazy (and it always is with me)
but i will chase that train
climb that mountain
win that race
if only for my legs
my eyes
my heart.

with a pedal of determination
i will be just like the little blue engine
of my youth,
thinking my way to the top
thinking
thinking
thinking
all. the. way. down
to where everything tastes
better on the other side of the mountain.