Thursday, March 10, 2011
Life's not a bike ride
Men's Journal posted an excerpt from its April cover article on Jake Gyllenhaal. Sounds like the writer had to go through quite a workout to do the job.
Jake Gyllenhaal proves to be a man of his word, unfortunately. Yesterday he promised me a “really fucking hard climb,” and that’s what he’s engineering now, up and down Garbage Hill in Griffith Park, then over to the Hollywood Hills for a second round of ascents to Mulholland Drive. It starts out easy enough. As we zip over the flats along the 5 Freeway, portions of the ride spool by in bike-geek chitchat. I ask about his velodrome-style Look frame. “I’m not really a gearhead. With biking, the spirit of it is — whatever you can find. To be honest, I know nothing about my bikes. I know how to change a tire; I know how to fix my bike if need be. I just know none of the names.”
Then he leans left, veering off the park’s perimeter road, at the base of our climb. “From here on, there’s not much traffic,” he yells back, as if I’d been secretly longing to let it rip.
Jake Gyllenhaal is something of a cardio monster. You might not guess this at first glance. At 6 feet and about 180 pounds, the 30-year-old is visibly in shape, but he doesn’t sport the typical road-biker, my-body-fat-is-lower-than-your-mortgage-rate frame. For his past two action roles, as the title character in Prince of Persia last spring, and as Captain Colter Stevens in the new thriller Source Code, he’s cultivated more of a military build. But left to himself, what he likes to do is run or bike. Inevitably, though, he pushes hard, even too hard. He says he suffered shin splints before he started barefoot running. “I’ve had to teach myself to slow down a bit,” he confesses. “Because I get so into it, it becomes a real addiction. But it’s like a New Year’s resolution.”
“To exercise less?”
“To sit down and read a book. Life’s not a bike ride. I wouldn’t say exercise less, but sit with myself.” Good thing there’s the action-star loophole — Jake believes he can “sit with himself” while he’s running. “It’s not: ‘I’m having a shitty day and I’m going to go for a run,’ but ‘I’m having a shitty day and I’m going for a run and I’m going to try to work out what’s going on.’ Not just get my serotonin levels up and feel good. I’m going to think about things. And the only way you can do that is to slow the pace down.”
On this outing he’s got me to slow him down. As we start climbing, we settle into a compromise pace — Gyllenhaal alternately cycling ahead then slowing down to let me catch up. I cheat to the inside on every switchback, trying to catch up.
Soon his advice starts to have a positive effect on his pace, too, and he shoots off up the road. I get close enough to ask why this route — three miles and change in distance and 800 vertical feet up to a peak above the Griffith Observatory — is called Garbage Hill. “I don’t know,” Gyllenhaal says. “I’ve heard it called Trash Truck Hill, too. Maybe there’s a dump somewhere around.” He shoots me a Lance-like glance over his shoulder. “Or maybe we just don’t let any garbage in here.” He chuckles and pedals out of sight around the next switchback.
That was a very cool beginning to the article. I like it when writers mix things up. Looking forward to reading the rest of the piece.
(Photos courtesy of IHJ.)