“The Transcendent Pain” | Bicycling Aug 2012


The transcendent pain in which we dig deep into the history and the latest research of the revered art of suffering and discover some good news: You can always go harder.

Or is that the bad news? 

“VENGA! VENGA!” I’m on a long climb somewhere in the north of Spain, and my team director is screaming in my earpiece. It’s a big, nasty mountain pass, and the lead racers are flying up the road without me. I’ll really need to push myself to stay with these guys.

Venga venga vengaaaa.”

I grab the center of the handlebar and lower my head. My legs burn like I just received a transfusion of hot drain cleaner.

The director is in a frenzy. He pulls up beside me, leans out the car window, and starts making karate-chop motions at my legs, as if trying to frighten them into spinning faster. “Let’s goooo!!” he shrieks. “Come on! You are almost at the top!”

More karate chops. “Dass-dass-dass!!” he hisses, beyond words.

He smacks me in the ass then fades backward, leaving me to my agony. I ride on, but my quads are cooked, my breathing hoarse and ragged. I can’t get enough air. The pedals barely turn. Eventually, I wobble to the roadside and climb off my bike. It’s over.

“Okay, good job, Bill,” says Iñigo San Millán, PhD, calm and patient in his white lab coat as he brings an end to my fantasy.


“Transcendent Pain” by Bill Gifford | Bicycling Aug 2012 | Illustration: Jason Holley


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