Sophie is my Fairdale Weekender Archer, so this blog post is not about the 1982 movie in which Meryl Streep won the Oscar for best actor. Also unlike the movie, based on the book by William Styron, my bit of suffering is nothing like the dilemma of the character in the film. Yet I went on this bike ride despite not being fully prepared and got to thinking, “Why am I choosing this suffering when I could easily avoid it?” The short answer is “Because, goals.” The longer answer is a bit more complex.
When I set out on my bicycle journey in early 2015, I had no idea I was setting out on my bicycle journey. But as it unfolded, I progressed and realized that I could do more miles than I (or anyone else who knows me) could have imagined. At some point, “more miles” became my mantra. And sometimes that goal has been challenging. Tonight was one of them.
Although I “only” rode 20 miles, and it was “only” about 40 F, it was a battle for sure: against the wind, fatigue, and most of all, the cold. At some point it penetrated my liner sock, Smart Wool sock and shoe to make my toes dangerously cold. I stopped at the bike shop and the grocery store to allow my tootsies to return to a normal and healthy temperature. But in addition to that offense, overall the bike ride tested my resolve, which my ego loved to prove wrong and just keep going.
Even as I got near home, I looked at my Garmin watch to find a good stopping point. I went around some blocks to get to a round number of 18. And then that wasn’t satisfying enough, so I added two more for an even 20. I could have headed home at any point or even not gone at all. I could have stayed in, watched some streaming television, and simply listened to common sense and reason, and lived to bike another day. I didn’t. I chose the harder path. I’m glad, but chastened by the lack of foot protection.
Despite being a slacker fathlete, one thing you cannot use to describe me is lazy. I walk, do yoga and write daily. I bike most days, sometimes to excess. And it’s this excess that’s the question. How much is too much? When it is not enough? Is having a goal of a certain number of miles based on any practical reasons? Even if I won an award for it (very unlikely – plenty of people bike double and triple what I do, and much faster and hillier), just what does one do with a cycling award, anyway?
In my mind, there is no such thing as too many miles. I do question that assumption frequently, because it has not translated to more fitness. I’ve been in pretty good bike shape for a while, though less this year than last, and on a slower, heavier bike. I’ve also been out of general shape for some time. Be that as it may, 20 miles in the cold and wind was pretty tough, and most local folks on my Strava feed did not ride at all today. That doesn’t make me any better or smarter than them, in fact, quite the opposite. One person complimented me on my dedication, which was nice.
It does say something about my tenacity, which I do have when needed, and sometimes when it’s not advisable. Now I’m too sleepy to continue. My advice is get out there and try harder. You can do it if you believe in yourself. It’s also good to know your limits, have the right gear, and respect Mother Nature. When you’re done with your ride, walk, run, yoga session, writing time or whatever, take a load off and kick back with a little reward. Maybe some streaming videos, reading fiction, a sweet treat, a salad, a bath, a good night’s sleep or all the above.
Maybe it’s not either / or. You can do the hard work and also play hard. But get good wool socks and shoe covers. Choose wisely!
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