I wanted to stop benchmarking my mileage....a place that meant training....a place where the training became more substantial than the event itself. I spent 4 months of my life training for a great event....and you know what I remember and choose to remember? It's the training rides that fueled my passion, my soul and my best memories. During the event...I was so numb, focused and dialed.....that I did not let a single emotion hatch, creep in or whisper into my conscious ..until it was prematurely over and I cried for 2 hours.
I wanted to stop holding numbers as the gauge for how I felt about my day, my week or my month. I suppose that quitting anything comes with withdrawal and this was no exception. I felt naked without my numerical and geographical reference points converted into two dimensions displayed on a 1 x 1.5 inch screen. Once I got over this, my emotions took a dive. I started feeling slower....I was no longer able to calculate split-times; justifying away a slower section because of a mechanical or some other happenstance, I was depressed that my rides seemed less frequent and.....gulp....slower.
But then something strange happened. I went riding with folks. For the longest time...I was riding alone because I was so focused on improvement....the ugly side of training. Reluctantly, I went on a group ride, fearing I would hold up the group. Time and time again....folks gave me snarky comments on how I was now hammering.....really, I was not trying....I just feared those behind me....so I gave it my all.
Now....I'm not going to state that I am actually faster...I'm sure I'm slower....my gut's bigger, so there's no denying that an office job and constant airline travel has it's nasty side. But when I'm riding with people, sharing in experiences and only in experiences...I'm urged to be my best without devices of measurement. When I think about this, it makes sense to me. When I was riding all the time...I would have slow rides, I would have medium pace rides and then I would have hammer rides. You need to do this when you're riding 6 days a week....you simply can't manage recovery if you're giving your physical all, all the time.
But now that I feel blessed if I'm able to ride 3 days a week.....I just hammer. At first, it was based out of guilt for not riding as much. Then it turned to anger at working more than riding. And now....well....I see it as the only way I want to ride...with no numerical checks on my emotions, my legs, my lungs or my heart.....I figure if I have 2 hours, I'm gonna give it my all.
And I can find some poetic justice in the fact that for years I was driven by my heart but unaware of the checks I had placed upon myself. Now, I'm driven not by my heart, but out of a base necessity to put in the miles because I only have 2 hours to myself....so I choose now to do it without limit, check or measurement....just the wind in my helmet, the sweat stinging my eyes and the beautiful sound of quartz and feldspar grains singing beneath the constant turn of my tires.
And it's in this moment... among the brittlebrush, wet creosote smell of a late spring storm and the scurrying quail of sunset, I find my heart again....unencumbered, unshackled and open.