I learned a little about myself
This weekend was interesting for me. On Saturday I rode in to the shop and set new personal records for segments on the ride and completed the 18 miles faster than I have ever done so before. I rode very strongly. I rode very comfortably. I felt so comfortable on my bike… That is how I always WANT to feel on the bike. I don’t always. There are days when it seems every hill is up and every breeze is a stiff headwind.
Sunday I took part in an organized fund-raising ride of 50 miles. A large group from the shop took part and we all lined up at the front of the ride for the start. NP, KE and I rode out strong and I soon took the lead. It is called a “pull” in cycling-speak. With NP and KE right behind me I “pulled” the three of us along. At 23-26 miles per hour we flew along the road in the heavy, damp air and pounded down the first 3-4 miles.
The Friday before the ride I got my first look at the course and it scared the hell out of me. I was so ready to not ride. I saw the four class-4 climbs. I saw the mile upon mile of climbing. I was so upset. I KNEW I couldn’t do the ride. I was certain that I would end up on the SAG wagon. I told Missus that I was thinking of not doing it at all. I could feel the old doubts and old fears building in me. I felt the urge to run and hide from this. Come up with an excuse for not riding. Figure out a graceful exit.
Saturday I rode well in beautiful weather and I felt better about the Sunday ride but the hill still had me frightened. Not worried. FRIGHTENED.
I went. I rode. The rain didn’t scare me off but it would have served as a good excuse. I didn’t take it. I went and I rode. I was so concerned about talking myself out of the ride that I arrived at the ride site and hour and a half before the ride start and I was the first person to sign in. Slowly my coworkers arrived and the friendship, the camaraderie, the little digs, the laughter, all served to ease my fears.
Soon the start of the ride…
I knew I would not be able to stay with NP and KE once we hit the hills. One: I am a bad hill-climber. 2) These guys are REALLY good. KE is 25 or so and fast, Very fast. NP is around 32 and as fast if not faster than KE. They both climb hills like mountain goats. Very fast mountain goats…. I wanted to ride with them for at least that first part. I had told them to not worry about dropping me once the going got fast and hilly and I am glad they didn’t. Once the hills showed up, and along with the heavy mist and foggy conditions, the wet roads and the wet leaves on the wet roads…. Well, let’s just say I went a great deal slower than they did.
About 5 miles in I started to drop back. I large group of riders over took me and I would not see NP and KE again until the first rest area. I took a very short break and rode out of the rest area with them but they and the pack soon disappeared down the road. I was soon riding alone. I like riding alone and I soon found my rhythm and settled in at a fair pace on the flats and moderate downhill runs.
Then I came to the first truly difficult hill. It was at about the 14 mile mark that the hills started to get me. I rode them. I rode them slowly. But I made it. I could feel frustration and fear building in me. I was riding alone. I was riding on wet roads. I was riding in a heavy mist and I had to take off my glasses to see at all. Not having sharp vision made it even more frightening. I saw the turn for the 30 mile route but I went straight. I kept going.
I was hurting. My right calf was hurting. I first tore the muscle in that leg 13 years ago. I tripped over my father’s dog. I landed awkwardly and something in the leg POPPED. It swelled up. It turned pretty colors that legs are not supposed to turn. It took a year to feel anything close to normal and even now, 13 years later; it will send me messages to let me know that it still is not healthy, not right. Yesterday it began to hurt on one of the hills. There it was: My Excuse, My Out. I could take a short cut back or wait for the SAG and I would be done with the vertical hell.
I kept riding. I kept going up the hills.
The wet roads and the wet leaves on the wet roads kept me from really enjoying the downhill runs. I didn’t even get the payback for the slog up the hills: the high-speed runs down the hills.
But I kept going.
At some point a young woman I have ridden with before and who decided to do this ride at my urging, rode up and called out asking if it was me. I waved her on and we rode the rest of the ride together. We did two of the class-4 climbs together. She rode them better than I did. I finally gave in and walked two short sections of the last climb. I gave in to the fear that I would blow up my calf.
Finally the hills were behind us and I was able to let it go. I could still crank on the flats. I could still hit 20+ miles per hour on the level roads towards the end. The last 7 miles or so flew by as I could finally find a rhythm again.
I rode in to the parking lot at the park and most of the group from the Shop had finished and left. BP, CB, and NP were still there. They cheered me on as I rode in. The insecure part of me at first thought it was a teasing sort of cheer, a little mocking at my slow time. Then I realized it was not. It was a genuine “job well done”. I had done the ride at 15.9 miles per hour average. I had struggled on the hills but I had finished. I didn’t make a big deal about my sore calf. I just admitted the hills had the best of me. I found out that KE had crashed hard but would be ok. He hit a fist sized rock on a descent. His helmet died a hero doing its job and KE will be riding again soon. It put my struggles in to perspective.
BP owns the shop. He is a good rider, my age, and he is a good guy. When I expressed disappointment at how poorly I ride the hills he reminded me in no uncertain terms of how the hills owned me in the early spring. How I couldn’t make it halfway up Two Bridges Road before I had to dismount and walk. He reminded me that the hills I rode that day were nearly as steep and a good deal longer. He reminded me that a 25 mile ride used to exhaust me.
Looking back at the ride I see that NP cooked me on the hills, riding each segment an average of 5 or 6 miles per hour faster than I did, but I was there with him on the flats even at the end. On the last four segments that I recorded (batteries died) I averaged 19.25 miles per hour and NP averaged 20.65 miles per hour. Not bad. I think I could have stayed with him if we were riding together.
I learned a little about myself this weekend.
I learned I am better at riding than I my emotions think I am. I learned I need to trust myself and my skills a little more. I learned that I can overcome my self-imposed limitations if I get my mind in the right place.
I learned that even in the rain. Even on the hills, even when the conditions are horrible and the ride is very hard. I learned that I would rather be on my bike, the person I am now, the person I am becoming, then ever give up, ever surrender to the fear and the insecurities.
I will probably have to relearn this lesson many times but it will be easier each time because I learned a little about myself this weekend.
Back to eating right…
Not that I stopped eating right but my calories climbed a bit recently and a few extra pounds have come to visit. They won’t get to stay…
With the winter months coming I have to make sure my discipline stays sharp. I cannot let the guard down.
Tonight I had a light dinner to go with a light lunch and light breakfast. I will have a nice snack later to tide me over through the night. More of the same tomorrow.
Staying focused on the goal.
Back to something I touch on above.
I often feel like the outsider looking in. Yesterday I allowed that to enter my mind.
The feeling that I am not good enough, not IN enough, not part of the core.
The doubts can be difficult to overcome. I am so far from it.
I have written before about the refuge I found in being fat. Able to stay on the sidelines rather than having to take part. The fat offered the excuse I needed to avoid, to evade, to run away from the things that scared me.
It all comes back to self-doubt. Insecurity.
The self-deprecating humor, the self-deprecation in general, still referring to myself as fat.
All fueled by this nagging sense that I am not equal to, or up to, the skills, intelligence, knowledge of those around me.
The lessons I learned yesterday, the lesson plan of yesterday, taught me to trust my skills, my abilities, my knowledge.
Today I had another lesson. Less involved than yesterdays but a lesson all the same.
I was asked by my manager to put together some data and put it together in a graph to see if the work I have been doing with the teams I have put together is showing the hoped for improvements.
They are. Dramatically so.
The key performance indicators for the two areas I have been working on have all improved by not less than 40%.
I am good at what I do. At work and in my personal life.
Sometimes I need to see it in front of me in print, graphed and charted.
I have many lessons still to learn.
These lessons are a good start.