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Cycling Northern Italy

Cycling along an edge of the world, I was captivated by the scenery around me. Emerald vineyards climbed a steep mountain on one side of the road; cliffs dropped hundreds of feet to the ocean on the other. I could hear the surf pounding on rocks far below. I listened to the wind in the trellises above me. Ahead stood a nearly vertical wall.

"Come on," I told myself, "no walking." I began to feel adrenaline pumping through my veins. The muscles in my arms began to bulge as I braced against the handlebars. I used strength in my back to pull my legs through each laborious revolution of the pedals. My speedometer read two miles per hour.

The cars that passed me weren't doing much better. Their engines strained as they, too, tried to conquer this mountain. As they crept by, the drivers beeped their horns and shouted encouragement. I passed a group of bike riders who were having a difficult time walking their bicycles up the steep grade. They looked at me and the camping gear strapped on my bike in disbelief. Sweat covered my body; I felt like I was conquering the world as I assaulted the summit. Nothing was going to stop me.

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