Biking 25 miles in one day can be challenging or easy depending on your abilities and how you feel. Then there’s the weather like wind, rain, cold or heat to contend with. Traffic can be very scary even if you’re used to riding in it. Also important are the quintessential questions that come up riding a bike like: what to wear, what to eat, where to go? I must have figured all that out because I managed to make it another seven days in a row for the 10th week. This past week I totaled 175 miles, which is huge – 25 miles a day if you’re counting. Or a mile for every hour of the week (168) plus seven. So what follows are some thoughts on my pretty stupendous week (or stupid, depending how you look at it; maybe it’s a little of both.)
Tonight’s ride was slow due to the wind, cold, and simply bring tired from Sundays 40-miler and not having had a day off for over two months. Here are some of the other recent rides:
Riding as much as I have been is exhausting and causes plenty of suffering in body and brain, but it is done out of dedication to my goals. Fortunately, the weather has been unseasonably nice, sunny, and we even had a warm day in the 80’s yesterday. I’ve also had the sad but glad luxury of not working, which gives me the time needed to slowly but surely slog away. I’m not fast, so it takes me a good while. But get there. Following the advice of fellow blogger and my most frequent (and kind) commenter, I strive to Be Sorry... Less.
There must be some deeper meaning or motivation in this fervent pursuit of a large, round number on my Garmin watch (which plugs into my Strava feed). I am not quite sure I can ever really fully explain it. Maybe it’s like an very strong itch that needs to — and must be — scratched. Or Sir Edmund Hillary’s answer to why Everest: “Because it’s there.” Hoping to stave off the ever-growing effects of aging is part of it. To justify the less than healthy snacks I consume and lose weight (though I never have reduced pounds through biking, I’ve maybe maintained some muscle). Keeping the heart healthy is a benefit. Maybe I impress or inspire someone, somewhere. But mostly, I do it for me because I can, while I can.
When the opportunity to make money arose this summer, I sacrificed miles for the moolah. Now I’m paying for it in make-up work, big time. I just passed last year’s mileage, 4,554 in 2018. Soon I should pass 2017’s number, 4,716. I won’t catch 2016’s high, except that I sort of will. That’s because on New Year’s Day of 2018, I began, as I titled my last post, A Walk a Day for Almost Two Years. If I do pass 2016 with combined walking and biking, that will be a pretty huge accomplishment, because I’m riding Sophie, the Fairdale Weekender Archer who is 28 pounds of steel with only nine gears, and the sinus infection and the knee pain, and the time off… You get the picture: this shit is hard!
Yeah dude, but is it healthy, a good choice? In some ways. Am I punishing myself and overdoing it? Probably. Am I also hurting my body, especially by not resting? Indubitably. Someday soon, I’ll be forced to take some rest days. Either due to not having a bike over the holiday, fatigue, sickness, bad weather, lack of time due to work, just getting sick of riding, or something else. Hopefully not bei crashed into by a car. Then there’s the New Year, when it starts all over again. I can’t wait (eyeballs rolling).
But until then, I can’t seem to stop and as science says, an object in motion tends to stay in motion. So I guess won’t stop. It’s my exercise, fun, time in nature, meditation, and good for my physical health and mental well-being. Sometimes it’s social too, though not often. In the realm of Strava, there is some of that kinship. Kudos do help. Tonight, I’m pretty sure a dude I recognize who I have passed several times recently zoomed by me on his bike while I was on my daily walk. I flipped him a thumbs up and he nodded back. That was a cool moment for some ineffable reason. I’m part of something bigger than must, and it is about me but of course not only me. A vision quest of mythical proportions perhaps it is not. But it means something, and.as the kids.say today, that’s not nothing.
I ran into a Strava buddy in real life tonight. He said “Hey Dude, I haven’t seen you in a while.” I wanted to say “I’m here, I’m still around, I just don’t get to early morning fast group rides.” I muttered something and asked how he was. Busy but soon to have a break was the college professor’s answer. It as I’ve to him; a guy who encouraged me on a long, hard ride once and ever since on Strava. Sometimes I tell clerks at store how long a bike ride I’m on, and they’re invariably impressed. The bike shop folks are friends, or at least happy to take my modest money. I may be on my own, the roads virtually void of bikes, cranking out the miles in the cold and dark, but I’m not really alone. Even when it sure as hell feels like it.
Life is imbued with meaning largely by what we do. What we reap from what we sow may not always be clear. We hope for some clarity, insight, growth or even reward. In the end we are all equal, we are all reduced to ashes or worm food. So who cares about some dude riding his bike a lot? Well if you’re reading this maybe you do, for a moment at least… and I appreciate that.
So, just what does all my biking mean? Like I said, I’m not really sure. Despite the time, challenges, hardships, costs (real, opportunity and otherwise) and close calls with death or injury by cars on a consistent basis, my biking means something. Like my writing this blog and my WIP (Work in Progress) it hasn’t brought me any money (yet). But it’s brought me a platform and audience, even if currently small. And that’s pretty cool.
My point, and I do have one, is that my efforts have brought me to a point where I can say I have biked almost 20,000 miles in four years. I don’t know what that means, but it has got to mean something. And that’s good enough for me for now.
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