December 31, 2010
Two kids came riding up to me in the middle of Saskatchewan, waving and smiling.
"Hey Mister. Did you come all the way up the hill?"
I looked to behind me to the west and then ahead to the east. It was flat as the eye could see. I hadn't encountered a hill for at least a week.
These kids were obviously joking.
But, fortunately, before I laughed or opened my mouth, I looked into their eyes and saw nothing but earnestness.
There was a ever-so-slight grade coming into town. Two percent. Max. But in their world, this was the steepest hill you could pedal.
I've met plenty of folks on my travels who have never traveled fifty miles beyond their home town. And for at least hundred miles in each direction ... this WAS the hill.
I smiled at the boys and said, "You bet I did. Never thought I'd make it."
We pedaled into town together and I bought them an ice cream to celebrate our accomplishment. I bought one for me too. Couldn't let them eat alone.
Over the course of my lifetime, my own definition of "hill" or "big climb" has changed. But whether it's a two percent grade, or twenty-two percent ... getting to the top has always been a reason to celebrate.
Happy Climbing (and even happier summiting) in 2011.
Photos by Willie Weir
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road, and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.