Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Today I did another “thing” on the bike. Not a long distance outdoors, like the 100 kilometres (60 miles) I cycled on September 18, but inside, on the trainer. I rode one of the most challenging climbs on the smart trainer platform, Zwift, the Alpe du Zwift, a virtual course designed through GPS data to mimic the Alpe d’Huez, a regular stage of the Tour de France professional cycling race.

The whole ride took me two hours and five minutes to complete, and the Alpe portion of the ride was just over 100 minutes of climbing, at an average grade of 8%, with 1,036 metres (3,400 feet) elevation gain. It was so much climbing. I’m not a climber, but the friend who has given me advice on cycling suggested I try it.

Almost three-quarters of the way up the Alpe du Zwift course.

After the grinding, gruelling ride to the top, coasting down was a blast, travelling at a virtual speed of 69-78 kilometres per hour (43-49 mph). The course was so long, it took me ten minutes to descend at that high speed!

Coasting down the mountain after reaching the virtual summit.

Before doing the ride today, I watched a video produced by the Global Cycling Network in which one of their presenters rode the Alpe d’ Huez. He compared the real-life experience in France with the virtual course in terms of the effort required and found them virtually identical.

Watching the video inspired me to try for the summit. Funny thing; when I told my friend I’d done the course after watching the GCN video, he told me he had decided to do it after watching the same episode! (Later today, revisiting the video segments of the GCN presenter cycling in his studio near the end of the ride, I can relate to feeling as winded and depleted, though I may have been a bit happier!)

Valerie Simpson and Nickolas Ashford wrote “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” in 1966. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell made a hit with it in 1967. Former Supremes lead singer Diana Ross put it back on the charts when she recorded it in 1970; it was her first solo, number-one hit on the Billboard 100. While the Gaye/Terrell version’s mix of female and male voices makes it rich and multi-layered, I prefer Diana Ross’s confident, ethereal tone. As a youngster in the 1970s, I would have heard it a fair bit, but can’t say I have childhood memories attached to it. It’s a beautiful song.

Sometimes the mountain is high enough. Like today. But I’m happy I took it on, virtually, and am grateful, really, that my 60-year-old body could take me through the challenge. Isn’t it great when we know we can rely on something, someone, anything, to be there, when we need it, and we can just call?

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from Diana Ross’s official YouTube channel:  

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