guest post: Peter the Climber

Five rounds for max reps of:

2/3 Body weight thruster


Rest as needed betwen exercises and rounds.

Post reps for both exercises in all rounds.


Triassic Sands, Red Rocks, Nevada

I know this is heresy to the votaries at the gym, but for me, Crossfit is a means to an end: climbing. So, just like the Games monomaniacs, I ignore the last dictum in coach Glassman’s definition of fitness: regularly learn and play new sports. But this past weekend I was forced to make amends. A friend had just acquired a spiffy new toy and wanted to go out and play, so we went mountain biking in the desert outside of Las Vegas.

In spite of all those childhood years biking to and from school, to and from soccer practice, to and from the pub (no lexus limo for us eurotrash kids), I get on the bike and feel like a gimp, awkwardly mounted on the device, as I crawl along on a rocky trail with spiny things poking at me and a nasty drop-off to my left. Next thing I know, the uphill gets serious, there are switchbacks, and I have to get off and push the damn thing. Finally, the terrain mellows, but now my quads are complaining while my friend is patiently waiting half a mile ahead.

Wtf am I doing here?

About an hour into the ride, I finally decide to stop being a wimp. Yes, the quads are still whining, but as with a nagging wench, the point has come where I’m no longer listening. Now I’m on fire, greedily sucking in air, my lungs all ablaze with the thrill of heavy breathing. I no longer worry about where I’m going or how far uphill it is. My eyes dart about, my neurons are firing, my muscles are twitching, and, like Zeb with his favorite Transformer, I am one with the machine as I steal through the landscape.

At the top, I realize that I’ve actually gained quite a bit of elevation. Now comes the reward. I start hurtling down the hill, my feet firmly planted on the pedals, hips out far behind the seat, I get fast, scary fast, from time to time I realize that a crash would be brutal, then the beast takes over again, I gnarl, I pounce, I gnash my teeth, I dodge real rocks and rocks I imagine. Damn. A few minutes of this and I’m back where I started, bones rattled, all sorts of muscles totally exhausted, and I’m smiling like an idiot.

There are many beautiful Crossfit themes to nerd about here: (re)building neural pathways, minuscule muscular adaptations, balance, spatial perception, agility… but there’s something else, something that can’t be measured in pounds or rounds.

The body fights, the mind struggles, the bullshit from this morning and later today disappears, and for a few precious moments you’re immortal, like the little desert rabbit that darts across your path, immortal in the present.

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