it's arrived: biking season, when everyone starts pedaling up the canyons again, when the air feels great and the sun is making its presence known more consistently but not yet aggressively.
the time when I huff and puff my way up the canyon and just as I begin to crest that last little rounded hill I can see a cycling-gear-clad body standing by their bike, then another straddling their bike, then another and another . . . it's the party at the top of the hill.
I have teenagers. which means if one of them is home, music is playing in my house. one of the current favorites is by All Time Low, with a chorus that states, everybody knows there's a party at the end of the world.
catchy tune. catchy phrase.
and now I sing to myself, everybody knows there's a party at the top of the hill.
sometimes there are a dozen, bikes leaning against the battered guard rail, people clustered in threes and fours, all in differing stages of rest/recovery/refueling/connecting. some moving onward to the next hill, some heading back down, some depleted, some barely beginning to warm up for their longer journey.
and we all climbed the hill, pushing our bodies and bikes up, up this reasonable grade, up toward the place the party gathers, the peak, the summit, the goal.
it's an accomplishment.
greater for some than for others: huge in significance for the first-timer, merely one leg of a longer ride for someone training for an event, just a quick sprint for a professional cyclist.
it remains, however, the top of a hill.
today I rode up big cottonwood canyon.
and I didn't make it to the party.
a rarity for me, I made it perhaps 10,000 feet short of the top before my body said nope, no more today. I rested at the second solitude ski resort entrance, lying on my back on the top of a concrete retaining wall, soaking in the sun, letting my aching muscles--from shoulders and arms and upper back to quads and hamstrings--quiver in the delight of non-movement. I was done.
no party at the top of the hill, but my own little private party acknowledging that sometimes it's okay to say enough.
there will be another day, I will feel stronger on a different day.
the party at the top of the hill will always exist, no matter who is there, no matter which hill, no matter figurative or literal.
there is always a party at the top of the hill.