Alright, alright, alright. I don’t literally mean on fire. But it is a quote from Matthew McConaghey as Woody Wooderson in the Austin-area film Dazed and Confused. Matt is apparently one hell of a dude, citizen, University of Texas at Austin professor (really!), and he happens to live up the highway from me. Oh yeah, I guess he won an Oscar or something for acting in Dallas Buyers Club. That’s all a seque, because alright is how I performed on the bicycle in July of 2020.
Don’t get me wrong — 622 is a great milestone (yes, a pun). I know this because I did about that much last month, too. Plus, I’m tired as hell, and that’s partly because it’s been hotter than hell. Well, not as bad as some Texas summers, but high humidity with 20 days of 100+ degree (F) heat was like the second highest July ever. It’s enough to suck the life out of a dude. The hotness literally kicked my ass again Friday, even on a short ride of 10 miles, but I did a good job protecting my skin. And it turns out that for the second month in a row I’ve averaged 20 miles per day. That is, if I may, all right with me.
I’m accustomed to being modest and saying that lots of people ride more miles, faster, and hillier. But that should go without saying. I mean, Bryce is a fantastic cyclist who recently did his solo birthday ride of a mere 117-miles. He helped me along with Seth on a New Year’s Eve ride of 80 miles — while he was sick, and once he and his wife did 200 miles in a day. So the smart money should have him winning every time when up against the likes of A Dude.
Judging one’s efforts in relation to others may be impossible to avoid in this world of social media, like the above Strava challenge chart. I always recall Buddha’s saying that “Comparison is the death of joy.” It may be as close to a mantra as this blog has. Biking 1001 kilometers in 31 days, at my age, weight and condition… are you kidding me? So, congrats to Bryce and we don’t like to punch down here, but he can take his digital trophy and… anyway, the point is I’m awesome. #NOTSORRY
As usual, though, I paid and still am paying for my efforts. Last week I was riding 25 miles a day and foolishly thought I might go for a 200-mile week. After five days, I was pretty toasted. So I’ve mostly been tapering and dialing it back since to try to recover. There was no need to do more than my goal, because I’ve revised it upward already from 110, then to 120, then 140, and now 150. After a short but torrential Texas thunderstorm, it was nice to go on a 10-mile ride around in the cooler temps and clean air. And then I found I was at 999 kilometres for the month so went back out for a mile.
Why do I push myself for some numbers about which really few people care? Well, I am still a fathlete, no matter how far I pedal. And because I can — SO FAR. It could all come to a screeching halt tomorrow if I picked up coronavirus at, for example, the grocery store. It’s a very contagious disease, and even though I wear a mask religiously around other people, no one is immune. At some point it would not be surprising if the old bod revolted and broke down and said “Hey, A Dude, give us a freaking’ break, here, alright?” Alright, alright, would have to be my answer.
In the end, for better or worse (the wear), I’m 622 miles closer to my goal and the end of the year and a five-year goal. Should I be so fortunate as to evade crashes, injury, illness, and death, my plan is for that happen right before my birthday. “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans,” said journalist and cartoonist Allen Saunders in 1957, later quoted in a song by John Lennon.
These days, planning ahead too far doesn’t seem wise or even possible. But we can’t live in the future, or the past, and today is a gift, which is why it’s called the present. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, what with the global pandemic, economic meltdown leading to increased suffering, hunger, homelessness, inept governmental bureaucrats, and so on ad nauseam.
I don’t know about you, but tomorrow, I’m planning on riding my bike. Again. Let’s hope I can. After all, although it’s due to an accident of birth, I am an AmeriCAN. I ain’t no AmeriCAN’T, that’s for sure. Ta ta, y’all. Thanks for reading!
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