Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Mental Side of Cycling.....

Because I've been on ..... oh, eight or ten ..... bicycle rides this year, I felt obligated to share my wisdom regarding this sport. Or this form of torture, whichever you prefer.

Cycling has such a huge mental aspect. I don't mean JUST the psyching up one must do simply to get out on the bike in the first place. Personally, I've been struggling with that one this year. There are so many other pressing things for me to do. Like clean the exhaust hose from the dryer. It's full of lint. I think.

Even after you're out ON the bike, however, there can sometimes be a case of mind over matter. Or in many cases, matter over the mind.

It ain't just the butt and the legs.

It's the brain.

For example, one year on BRAG, Katydid and I were in a little bitty town in South Georgia for a lunch stop. The ride director had recommended a certain all-you-can-eat buffet, and we decided to eat there for lunch. [THANKS FOR THAT, JERRY!] Nowhere in the literature was there a disclaimer that you shouldn't actually EAT at an all-you-can-eat buffet in the South Georgia heat in June and then attempt to finish the day's ride.

During lunch, some people (we didn't care if they were "official" or not) came around telling everyone that there had been a change to the route. The DOT was doing some paving on our route, and it wasn't safe for cyclists to be clogging up the roads in addition to the lane closures that were already taking place. Besides, have you ever ridden a bicycle on fresh blacktop in South Georgia heat in June?

The change to the day's route would cut off approximately 15 miles of that day's ride. We were okay with that, since it was "official" and all. That was back in the day when we steadfastly stuck to the proper route. We wouldn't even cut off a corner of a parking lot; we had to ride the whole distance. [We're over that now. We still, however, refuse to get in a SAG wagon.]

It was hotter than hell could possibly be, and we were stuffed from the buffet [THANKS AGAIN FOR THAT, JERRY!], and we had to stop for a break only about a mile from the lunch stop. It was getting ugly. But at least we had a shorter ride than we had previously thought.

When we FINALLY got to the next rest stop, they were announcing that the paving was finished for the day and we could go back to the original route.

Oh hell no.

Once you took that 15 miles out of my brain, you could NOT put it BACK.

It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, because if they had never told us about the short-cut, we would have ridden the whole distance anyway. We would have been miserable, thanks to the all-you-can-eat buffet [THANKS AGAIN FOR THAT, JERRY!], but we would have made it.

We took the short-cut. And we apparently weren't the only ones with the mental block against those 15 miles, because we soon saw official SAG wagons on the same roads we were on.

Another time my brain overruled my physical capability was when I was doing a solo ride. It was a Sunday morning, and I couldn't decide at first which of my gazillion routes from home I was going to do. I finally decided to ride to the nearby town of Jefferson, where I knew Hubby's last stop of his route was. I figured I could ride until I met him, which would be AT MOST 18 miles, and then I could put my bike in the back of his truck and ride home with him.

Keep in mind, had I ridden the entire distance there and back, it would only have been 36 miles.

Thirty-six miles is less than a medium ride. I'm not being smug here. I'm just sayin'. Thirty-six miles is not a butt-killer, it's not demoralizing, it's not even worthy of bragging about.

I had no way of knowing where I might meet Hubby. I was sort of hoping it wouldn't be right up the street here, because then I would have assembled all that gear for nothing.

I made it all the way to Jefferson and was approaching the store where I would surely find him. It was perfect, just the length of ride I was hoping for.

I saw Hubby's truck approaching. I was already smiling.

And then I saw him turn off the main road onto a short-cut I didn't know about. I waved foolishly long after it was apparent he wouldn't/couldn't see me. Then I did the only logical thing.

I burst into tears.

I had my cell phone, and I was furiously dialing the numbers for his pager (he didn't have a cell phone back then), which was pretty difficult to do while pedaling a bicycle and blinded by tears. How was I to know A) about the short-cut and B) that he didn't carry his pager on Sundays?

I even rode the rest of the way to the grocery store on the off-chance that it wasn't Hubby I had seen driving his truck and turning on the short-cut.

I rode around the parking lot twice. Three times.

There was nothing to do but ride toward home.

I was devastated. Heartbroken. I felt like I had been abandoned in the middle of nowhere with nothing but my bicycle.


I've ridden 36 miles lots of times. Sometimes even on purpose.

Why? Because my brain had convinced my body that it wouldn't HAVE to ride that far. It set the max-out meter at 18 miles, and that was all the fuel it gave us.

To make matters worse, my cell phone died. I estimated how much time Hubby would need to arrive at home, then I stopped at a store with a pay phone.

When he answered, I burst into tears again. "You didn't see me!"

He laughed. I would have laughed too, had I been in his situation, but I certainly didn't see the humor in mine.

He told me to stay where I was, he would be right back to get me. However, I felt foolish standing in front of a store that wasn't even open, especially considering I had a perfectly good bicycle right there with me.

I continued on toward home, and by the time Hubby arrived I had ridden 9 of the miles back home.

I was exhausted. There's no way I could have finished those other 9 miles. My body was willing, but the mind was weak.


Starry wonder said...

LOL, sorry! Poor mom!

Maggie said...

First, I appreciate the verbal butt-kicking you handed out to Jerry in this post. :)

And if I had ridden 36 miles on a bike, I would be dead and if my some miracle I was still alive, I would be bragging my butt off!

BRAG Blog said...

I give you a shortcut and a nice place for lunch and get blamed for it. It's true, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.