30 July 2017. Despite the forecast of hitting low 30s°C, and the cloudless blue sky at 11 in the morning, we decided to take my new mountain bike (3rd bike in 12 months) in Romania out for a spin. It’s a 14kg BTWIN 340 mountain bike that we bought yesterday, to replace the child-size DHS one that was bought in a rush last summer.
Set out for a spin
The sun was beating down hard on us with scant breeze as we rode out of Sebes city. I felt myself enveloped by a layer of dust as we rode on the city’s intercity road (Transalpina/DN67C), passing tired-looking houses and dry-looking shrubs on both sides of the road. The hot, dry air made my throat parched almost immediately, and the apprehension of how tolerant the drivers would be with cyclists did not make the ride better.
We made a turn into a side road after 9km. The aim of today was to get to the top of the hill which overlooked Sebes.
We seemed to have stepped into another world once we left the main road. Greenery lined the path, dust magically disappeared, silence filled the air which was interjected with intermittent bird chirping, and infrequent cars passed by. Our upcoming gruelling task was mitigated by the shade provided by the trees and the occasional breeze.
My other half did not inform me how long the climb or how steep (of course, it’s all relative..comparing to the almost 20% climbs in Le Tour de France). Ignorance is bliss. So, there I was, shifting gears by trial-and-error, to find the sweet spot to climb. The ignorant and gungho me decided not to select the lowest gear so as to have a workout, training my quadriceps. Thus, set with a medium chain ring, and the second biggest cog on my 7-speed cassette, I started my climb.
Naivety almost killed me, but I achieved my objective of strengthening my quadriceps.
Silviu and I set to meet on the peak since he was always faster than me. Around each corner, I was desperately searching for the sight of him: If I saw him, it meant that I was nearing the top. However, the number of turns seemed infinite, and I was disappointed time and time again.
As if just conquered Mount Everest
With each turn uphill, my heartbeat raced faster, which I thought impossible after the third or fourth turn. My rapid breathings turned to loud pantings, and in this tranquil rural setting, these pantings sounded more like roaring waves. At the same time, a familiar nagging inner voice emerged…Drop the gear, it would be easier; stop and rest; stop and push up the bike – no one would laugh at you. This voice persisted till the end, but I did not give in. The feeling I experienced after successfully climbing 230m over 3.2km, averaging 7.2% gradient, would not be smaller than conquering Mount Everest!
Life is funny like this: sometimes, it’s a small, yet not insignificant battle you win in your daily life that makes your day.
Best of all, after a hard-earned victory, a sumptuous home-made meal awaits you.