After a number of bike news posts, it’s time for a personal update. This blog is meant to educate, inform, inspire and motivate. But it is also to shine a light on one bicyclist’s journey (literal and figurative), not just the good, but also the bad and ugly. Regarding the latter, lately the engine room has not been firing on all cylinders. But truth be told, it’s been that way since I can remember, just different degrees.
As I recently told a fellow rider on Strava, “I’m only as good as last night’s sleep.” Since that generally isn’t great, my biking suffers accordingly. There are plenty of reasons for that, and while some are under my control, most are not. So I do my best. The question is what to do about it, besides the obvious: stop blogging late at night and do what those celebrities like Jennifer Garner said in hilarious videos of a book with the same title: “Go the F*(& to Sleep!” However, if I did that, you wouldn’t have anything to read.
Here’s a graphic from Strava about the last few weeks:
I took a few rest days, but that probably wasn’t enough. Regular readers may recall that I rode in some pretty bad conditions in December and then in January I was ill. The daily riding to make an even higher 2018 goal plus that weather, cedar fever and other allergies, general chronic fatigue, and my night owl ways, meant a bigger challenge overall. Let’s not forget the heavier bike. You might be thinking, “All of that doesn’t belong in the Good section, A Dude!”
Well, when you factor them all in, it’s actually pretty impressive that I’m putting in the time and miles that I do. I’ve completed 791.9 miles cycling this year so far, which averages 13.65 miles per day, or almost 5,000 miles for 2019 if I keep it up. And don’t forget, I’m walking (1.5 miles a day is about 45 miles per month), AND writing AND doing yoga — 30 minutes a day EACH. That’s not bad, it’s pretty good. And I’m still alive and kicking, which is very good indeed for anyone using the streets in Austin, Texas.
The not so good news is that I am lagging behind my goal, total time and elevation from last year. After only 58 days, I’ve done 141 rides. Many are short distances, and while the time it’s taking me to get places seems about the same, 10 miles per hour, that was with stops, so was easily 11, 12, 13 and more mph. Nowadays, it’s titling below 10 mph on some rides. That’s embarrassing, or what George Orwell would call “doubleplusungood” in his book 1984. My longest ride so far this year is 25 miles, maybe 30 on that same day with an errand. So, that distance is somewhat laughable, when I know I’ve been 60, 70 up to 100. However, to quote Lily Tomlin, “Even if you win the race, you’re still a rat.”
One thing about The Bad is that it’s very subjective. The Bad is not to be trusted. Many people at my age, weight and health level would be really happy to put up these numbers. All I can say is, MY stats are bad compared to ME in each of the last several years. Who knows why? I means, I’m aging like everyone. But to me, who thinks he can and should do better with each passing year, it just seems like I’ve not failed, but just that I’ve not been great. That’s okay, to point, but I have to keep fighting to get better. Is trying to be positive just covering up the negative? Either way, I’m a work in progress, and no one’s really grading. Except my inner critic, and that guy can piss off.
The ugly part has several components. One is that there’s no real clear cause or relief in sight to my (relative to me in 2016-17) now somewhat sucky bike riding. Sure, there are medical things, but nothing there has really changed. Another is the nagging doubt of what if this is my inevitable long-term decline that happens to us all an is happening way earlier than I want? That seems unlikely, but who knows? The problem with “being hard-core,” is “that you have to be hard-core.” And sometimes, you just don’t have “it”. For example, there’s a pain in my knee, tendon-related I believe. I try to take it easy but then a hard pedal stroke brings it back. I’m not treating it with heat, cold, pain gel, pills, acupuncture, herbs, massage or foam rolling. Waiting for it to heal, which it will. But the goal says “don’t rest, it’s not that bad.” What’s the right thing to do? Where’s Spike Lee when you need him?
I’m not out shop charity training rides trying to chase faster bike riders. So what will it take to recover to my previous levels of non-glory? I don’t know. Is it a sidelining injury? I doubt it, but there’s that nagging doubt. Questions like that are stressful since they don’t get answered immediately. Better medical care and a lighter bike would help. I suspect this is just another a minor setback that requires some rest, rehab and working on it on my part.
The unknown is the ugliest thing of all, because it has more information than all of us, and rocks us to our core. It leads us to ask questions: “Could I have done better? What did I do right? Am I going about this all wrong? Should I be focused on something else?” The answers are not easily forthcoming for anyone experiencing a rough patch.
The ugliest part of this all is questioning myself. I ought to just go out and do my best, and don’t worry about the rest. So that’s what I’m going to recommit myself to do. After brushing my teeth and getting a good night’s sleep, I hope. Having a rested mind and body and the attitude of “Let’s see what the day brings me, and what can I make of this day?” allows for success and learning. Perhaps a bike ride in the rain? Or staying in and working on my mounds of moving boxes? Whatever works for me may not work for you, though it might. Maybe some sharing ideas with others will help if and when the time comes for you to reevaluate like I am. Take a nap. Get a massage. Watch a movie. Etc. Take it easy, but take it! Just Keep Pedalin’! I’ll try to do the same.
Thanks for reading!
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