Sunday, April 23, 2017
I am riding two lines. The first is the actual white line marking the edge of Sunland Gin Road out here in the cotton boondocks of Southern Arizona near Eloy. The fields run away from the road, flat and dusty, to the Toltec Buttes. Now they look like Arizona: volcanic cliffs of baked irritability out there toward the horizon. The other line is subtle. It's the one I don't want to cross anymore than the fog line on the highway. This line is my anaerobic threshold. As long as I stay on this side I can keep pedaling pretty hard. If I go over that line and blow up, I'll lose the ability to sustain a high effort and will have to limp to the finish line of this 20 kilometer time trial. Not that I have any business out here. I am not a trained cyclist or a talented endurance athlete. But I got up at 3:45, packed my stuff and drove up here to pin on my number at 5:45 on a Sunday morning. Now I'm in the final five kilometers, and this is where it's supposed to hurt. So I ride that line. I go just up to the edge and watch my heart rate spike, the lactic acid saturate my quads, my vision go blurry, and my limbs go floppy, before pulling back on the throttle. Steady. I am hoping that all this blood will cleanse my black mood, lift and carry the toxic, calcified plaque of my psyche away to the rinse cycle. I'll know later whether the dopamine, the endorphins, the lovely pain-killer chemicals have done their job of lifting me out of this depressive rut. As the gap closes, I can push it harder and harder until the last half mile, where it's all-out puke-o-rama hard. I stand up and sprint to the finish going thirty miles an hour right before my vision goes spotty. It takes a minute for my breath to come back, my heart rate to slow to the point where I can think again. That was good. I could have maybe gone a sliver harder in a few places, but then I might not have ridden that line between fog and fun.