Dating : Suikerbossie

h2>Dating : Suikerbossie

A short story about a very long hill by Rémy Ngamije

Hhhhhh — hhhhhh!

You tighten the grip on the handle bars and focus on the front wheel. Just keep it turning.

The resistance in the crank is ferocious. It fights your calf muscles, your quads, your hamstrings. It fights your will.

You think Nike thoughts. Then you think Adidas thoughts.

And then, sheepishly, you gear down.

Hhhhhh — hhhhhh!

You ignore the burn of the frigid air in your trachea. You tell yourself it’s refreshing. “Pain is fear leaving the body! All that remains is strength!”

Yeah, no. You gear down again.

Much better. But only just.

Hhhhhh — hhhhh!

The roads are empty and the beds are full. Only the streetlights see you passing and panting. Morning is not far away. For now it is still night.

“It’s always darkest before the — ”

Nah, fam.

You gear down again.

Hhhhhh — hhhhh!

A cyclist passes you and shouts a greeting in solidarity. Only fools and fanatics are up at this hour chasing sub-four times.

And for what? A better starting pool, more bragging rights, more camaraderie with the white guys at work. So worth it.

But this damn hill goes on forever.

Just shut up and focus on the front wheel!

“Keep moving.” You pant. You rasp.

Don’t stop.

“Never stop!”

Please don’t stop.

Hhhhhh — hhhhh!

Quick-quick, slow-slow, or just slow — whatever it takes. Inch or a mile, baby. Bit by bit.

“And this too shall — ”

Nope, gear down again.

You hunker down on the bars and force your legs to piston-pump. You feel a twitch in the thigh. It is familiar. Too familiar.

Hhhhhh — hhhhh!

Suikerbossie was the problem last year. The climb from hell, the graveyard of amateurs — the fall wasn’t as painful as the embarrassment of pushing your bicycle up the hill. “Only grannies do that!” Brent joked at work when you finally came in three days later. Your arms looked like they’d gotten a partial spray tan. Stairs were their own PTSD.

Suikerbossie — that goddamn hill.

Fuck Brent! And Mark! And Jason! And Nick! Fuck all those white guys and their super light Bianchis, Treks, Cannondales, and Specializeds.

Fuck. Them. All.

This year will be different. You have a training schedule. You even have a diet. This year the bottom of that devil’s incline will be reached with the nursery rhyme being screamed from the lungs.

— Suikerbossie ek wil jou he!

This bobbejaan will climb the fucking berg.

Pedal in the metal, mettle to the pedal.

Maya Angelou up in this bitch! “And still I r — ”

Gear down.

Hhhhhh — hhhhh!

The end is near. The twitch again, stronger. This is how it ended last year.

You pray your thighs hold out some more. The bridge to your will is going to be overrun. “Hold on Horatio!”

You stand up in the saddle and give the pedals a proper hammering. You gulp air.


Hhhhhh — hhhhh!

The end is n —

The twitch becomes a spasm. Your thigh locks. You topple to the side. You break the fall with something that could break.

You swear.

You nearly cry but stop yourself. Tears are witnesses to weakness.

Fall down eight times, stand up —

“None,” you say as you make some tarmac angels.

This isn’t too bad. The stars have left. The sky is a shade of blue only interior decorators will know.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Hhhhhh — hhhhhh — hhhhh!

“Are you okay, boet?”

He pulls the bicycle off and reaches out a hand.

“Thanks.” Your legs shake like you’re about to dance the Charlie Brown part of the “Cha-Cha Slide.”

“No worries,” he says.

Sunrise. This is sad. The sun wasn’t supposed to see this embarrassment. Not again. That’s the third time this week.

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. I don’t live far from here.”

“Alright.” He looks down the hill and then up. His calf muscles look like they belong on a legionnaire in an Asterix and Obelix comic strip. The man’s heart probably beats once every two years. Yours sounds like a drum-line at a HBCU’s half-time show. His arms are thin, muscles worn down by endurance to the bone. His chest is narrow. This man, you think, is a cyclist. You are, sadly, just a guy riding his bike in the early morning. Flashing envy becomes suppressed jealousy. You try to keep calm. He takes a pull from his water bottler. “You did well,” he says. “You got far, dude.”

“Not far enough. Today was supposed to be the day.”

“Ag, ja, well, tomorrow’s another day, eh?”

“I am told.”

He clicks back into his pedals and waves as he cycles back down the hill. His red light winks cheekily as he disappears.

The end is near. To the north the sun streaks will be rubbing against the mountains. The ocean will be a ghostly blue. The view at the top will be worth it.

The top!

Hhhhhh — hhhhh!

It’s push time for you. Only grannies push.

“But grannies finish!”



Hhhhhh — hhhhh!

Tomorrow, start again.

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