I rode my bike today and the internal dialogue went a little something like this:
“Yup, this sucks. I should’ve taken a nap instead.”
“No, you need to get on your bike. Be consistent. You’ll get your fitness back.”
“That really old man on a mountain bike with sneakers just passed you like you were standing still. Was he laughing at you? You could always just turn around and ride home now.”
“Stop comparing yourself to other riders. Maybe you can find some remote place to ride where there’s no one else on the road and no one will recognize you.”
“This is miserable. Don’t you always say that if it’s not fun, don’t do it? This is definitely not fun.”
“Whew! 2,000’ of climbing in 20 miles. It sucked, but that’s a solid ride. Stop beating yourself up and enjoy the cruise home.”
“I guess this is better than the ride this weekend. Wait a minute, it might even be fun again.”
“That cute guy keeps talking to me. Maybe I don’t look so miserable after all.”
“Wow, that was the best ride ever!”
I’m not a natural athlete. I’m not a genetic freak like many of the riders I know. I didn’t even participate in any sports or fitness activities for the first 30 years of my life. In the past 15 years, since I started riding a bicycle, I’ve had to train really hard just to be a mediocre rider. And now, after 3+ months off the bike, it feels impossible that I’ll even be mediocre again.
I find it impossible to remember that just a few months ago I could climb mountains and ride my bike all day. I think back to the awesome events I rode in the past 12 months (Furnace Creek 508, US Paralympic Track Nationals, La Vuelta Puerto Rico, the monthly Strava Gran Fondos, a ride around Lake Tahoe, and the Death Ride climbs, and can’t see myself ever being able to do that again.
I often feel hopeless when I’m on the bike. It really isn’t fun. Honestly, it’s pretty miserable, both mentally and physically. It seems like the road back to fitness will be impossibly long and difficult. But I love riding my bike. Just not right now. I have to remember the love. And I know that the best way to regain my fitness is to get out there and ride my limits (which are very low right now) consistently. I need to log the hours. I need to embrace the misery. And I know, day by day, week by week, it will get better.
I turn 50 next year. My friend Ren decided that we should push our limits and race the HooDoo 500 together to celebrate this milestone. It’s a big, fat, hairy goal. But it’s 10 months away. Luckily, we’ve already chosen some milestone events to keep us motivated. So today, I rode for Ren and her lovely wife, Tiffney, and their two beautiful daughters. They’ve had a heck of a year, with the birth of a child, breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, and career changes. So we’ll be celebrating them at HooDoo 500, too.
Thanks for getting me out there today, Ren (even if you couldn't make it out with me)!