d: Suffering we mutually endure
You can often a read a line like this
“Get on my wheel, buddy,” I urged. He gurgled something, latched on, and I dragged him over the top.
And every time a read a line like this I think “Really?” because I’ve been offered wheels as I hack my way up a climb, and I never feel latched on, and I never feel like I’ve been dragged over the top. For the times where I’ve been the stronger rider (Um, ok, let it pass.) and offered my wheel… I don’t feel any additional resistance if they do grab on. Where does this language come from?
I once thought this must be the difference between the racers and pros and us recreational types. Maybe they climb the hills fast enough for these words to have meaning? Maybe you can feel the reduction in effort created by the aerodynamic suction of the rider in front? Yeah. I’ll bet it doesn’t feel that way to those riders either. As Greg Lemond famously said “It doesn’t get easier, you get faster.”
To understand we must remember the essence of cycling as a sport. The suffering we mutually endure, regardless of level, when we point our bikes upward. It is a gesture of hope, commiseration and understanding. It is an act of kindness. An offer to share the pain and misery. I see you. I feel you pain. Do not quit. Do not give the hill your soul. Join with me and we will climb this together. A contract that eases the grade—sooner or later we all are on the front or the back. And it is the respect for this that brings us the language.