Remember well the things that you will leave behind

March 25, 2013

In a previous post (link here), I gave a shout out to the song “The Great Divide” by VNV Nation.

Remember well the things that you will leave behind
As you set out to cross the vast and great divide

I’ve always found this line intriguing.  Seemingly a wistful sentiment, a ponderance of things that will be missed in the tradeoff of choices made, I perceive in there a neat double meaning. What you leave behind isn’t necessarily only good stuff!

In my continuing quest to become a stronger cyclist and achieve better health, there are many things that I, too, have left behind – especially in these last few months in which I’ve seen a real sea change in my fitness, which I attribute almost entirely to going regularly to the gym, adding strength, building muscle.  On the obvious level, I’ve left behind several “decades” of body weight – ten-pound increments on the scale, i.e. 280s, 270s, 260s etc.

But perhaps less tangibly and more specific to my cycling, I’ve recently become aware of leaving other things behind.

I used to have a dread of hills.  I’ve written about them a decent amount in this blog; and every cyclist has his/her own brand of love-hate relationship with hills, a relationship which is often complex.  For me, until recently my power-to-weight ratio was fairly poor, so that I would dread hills and just a few of them would wear me out.  I’d approach them with dread, fight my way up them, and couldn’t wait to be clear of them.  Nowadays, I don’t fear them any more.  Make no mistake, this isn’t hubris…there are plenty of hills even locally that can whip me.  I’m not suddenly, in my mind, King of the Mountains.  But I no longer fear any of them.  The ones I can eat up, I eat up; the ones I can surpass with effort, I do so; the ones I cannot yet beat I can either gear way down and just eke up, or, for the time being, defer tackling till I am stronger still.

Similarly, I used to have a dread of strong headwinds.  I STILL hate this more than I do hills.  Whereas hills eventually have a descent that you can enjoy, strong headwinds are merciless.  So I still am not wild about this; but as I mentioned in a previous post (link here), I’ve gotten much more comfortable in my own skin/with my own style.  I can endure wind better than previously and just work my way through it.

It’s an interesting thing to me that these changes are a hybrid of mental and physical components.  Physical because it’s mostly attributable to improving power-to-weight ratio, better musculature and therefore heightened ability to withstand stresses and recover more quickly; mental because the confidence this generates turns the key to some mental doors that I previously closed on myself.

Enough rambling for now, hopefully the thread of thought that motivated this post glimmers somewhere in here.  I’m gradually become a stronger cyclist and am reflecting on the process, with satisfaction but also with simple objective interest.  I definitely do remember well the things I’ve left behind, and in some cases I bid them goodbye and good riddance.

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