I’m not sure when we started including the vertical gain in our description of rides. Certainly, it wasn’t a readily accessible statistic in the before-times, when there wasn’t a satellite tracking our every activity and our daily hijinks weren’t getting sold back to us by billionaires armed with aggressive algorithms. Is knowing how far we went up worth the price of our souls being tethered to a giant alien battery that powers mining operations in the center of the Earth?
I mean, it is a pretty sweet statistic.
And anyway, without vert, without the hills that produce it, the term ‘Sisyphean’ wouldn’t mean much. What would the human condition even amount to without that struggle? No vert, no suffering, no Buddhism. No vert, no eBikes. No vert, no K/QoMs, no Strava superiority complexes. Hang on now, I might be talking myself into something.
In the absence of vert and the ability to measure same, no one would be Everesting or, heaven forbid, Double Everesting, which given the state of that mountain, might be for the best. Chomolungma is its real name anyway, but that’s harder for genetic anomalies with too much time on their hands to turn into a participle.
Now I know what you’re thinking (not really), but I could guess that it’s something like, “But riding bikes would be boring without hills.” and this might well be true, but it’d also be a lot easier, and consider how much human beings like to make things easier for themselves. Virtually the entire apparatus of late-stage capitalism is engaged in trying to make things easier for humans. Heck, even those of us who like pedaling bikes up hills keep buying bikes with easier gearing for going up hills.
We are not, those of us who like riding bikes, the most logically consistent bunch.
Of course, without vert there is also no such thing as descending. Jesus, Mary and Joseph! We wouldn’t want to lose downhill-ness. Down-hillery? Coasting? It’s one of life’s
only few real pleasures.
Come to think of it, if there was no variation in topography at all, would we even need gears? Would we all become fixie kids at that point? Heaven forfend. There aren’t enough jorts or rear tires in all of Christendom to support that level of skid-braking inanity.
Years ago, I thought of myself as a fair climber, but even Sisyphus slackened his pace eventually. I’m not nearly the fan of the ups I once was. Still, in reading back over the preceding graphs, I see the obvious benefits of keeping them, and also in keeping at the hard work of pedaling skyward, even if it only ends in the melting of my waxen wings and a long plummet into an angry sea.