Sunday, February 12, 2017

Progress. Decline. Incline. Climb.

On a group ride yesterday, we did a long gradual climb on the Bay Bridge. There was a lovely headwind that tested me just a bit. Did I just say "lovely" and "headwind" in the same sentence? I hate headwinds; they make me feel as if I'm twice as wide and twice as heavy as I want to be.
This is the way I went yesterday, though I didn't take this picture. I was too busy getting to the end of the climb.

The group went on to Treasure Island, the midway point to San Francisco. Riding on the island involved a descent, a loop, and a climb. I wasn't actually sure I could make the climb. Since I've hurt myself before attempting a difficult climb, I opted for the better part of valor and stayed at the entrance to the island.
I contemplate the easy climb I've just made. Ok, it wasn't that easy.
The descent on the bridge was one of the times where having a little extra weight was an advantage. There was a tailwind that didn't hurt either.

On the ride down, one of the group asked me what climbs I normally did.

I don't do any climbs, I replied.  

What? he said. Why not?

And it hit me. Partly it was my questioner's reaction to my response. Partly it was something that's been bubbling in my mind for a while. A lot of adults actually use biking as a way to challenge themselves. The "climb" is part of that. And those "century" things that I keep hearing about. And the "sufferfests". I don't do any of that. I ride to get somewhere, and to see things on the way. And for the big payday (meal and nap) at the end of a ride.

Side note: I often think, "Why are these rides so easy for other people? Why am I struggling to keep up?" One reason is that I've been going on rides with people who didn't stop exercising for decades at a time as I did. Their fitness levels are far higher than mine. Also, like many people, I want things now. I want to be fit immediately, rather than working on it, which just leads to frustration with my unrealistic expectations. Ok, end of confession.

If I really think about what I need to realize my goals, I know I'll have to become better at climbing.  I'll have to build more stamina. I'll have to work to get places, because there are places further and further away that I want to get to. I'll have to build more mental toughness, more of the "I can do this" attitude instead of my current attitude of "can I really do this?" Part of what's holding me back is the feeling that I'm still in rehab; that I have to be careful not to hurt myself.  That's partly true; I do have to be careful not to overdo it. I'm probably stronger than I think, though. A few months ago, I would have rested all day today. But I'll be heading off on another ride in a few hours, and I'm looking forward to it.
Somebody buy this guy some leg muscles!
And let's be realistic here: all of my goals involve just riding more so that I get better at it. What's bad about that?

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