Yesterday I returned to The Dream

September 9, 2013

So in late August I suffered from, as chronicled in recent posts, a fairly epic burnout from cycling.  It was varying parts physical and psychological / mental and, as is often the case, these varying dimensions cross-multiplied synergistically and with deleterious effect on my bicycling.  Quite suddenly cycling felt like a “chore” to me, a “job”, and something that I, to be frank, just dreaded doing.

After a successful but very short streak (which I didn’t do a great job of chronicling in these pages) in August where I ramped up my rando riding (I successfully finished rides on 8/11, 8/14 and 8/18), my “other life” of really frightful eating caught up to me and just dragged me down.  That’s an abyss I’ve already discussed at some length here, won’t ever relive again, and don’t intend to discuss much now.

Fortunately it was short-lived.  Some encouragement, wisdom and support from Sensei Ron A and my friends and family helped; and finally I decided I’d done enough torturing of myself with food as well as self-beratement, and I drew my line in the sand and returned to the good path nutritionwise.

Then, yesterday, I returned to the dream.  Randonneuring.

There was a recent article in American Randonneur, the quarterly newsletter of RUSA, in which an accomplished rando was asked how he managed to keep a positive attitude even during the rough stretches of long rides.  His basic answer was that he continued to remind himself that, whether it was sunny out and 75 degrees or cold, windy and rainy, he was living the dream and was doing what he’d chosen to do.  Browsing recently through some photos taken on my phone of a couple of the rando rides in August, I completely concur.  It occurred to me that – sorry, this sounds overly sappy but it’s just being honest – I have RARELY in my life felt more content than I was in that very short span of time when I was doing these long rides every few days,  building up my RUSA “resume”, and progressing with cycling and with my fitness.  I texted Ron A that even though these pictures were only from a couple weeks prior, it felt like it was years ago, so far had I been beaten down psychologically.  But in that moment I reminded myself that yes, for me, this IS the dream.  I’ve wanted to get into randonneuring since basically the day I learned that it existed and started to educate myself.  I worked hard to get into the shape where I could do the entry-level (still damned impressive IMO) RUSA distance of 100 km (62 miles) under RUSA conditions.  I looked forward to the day when I could FINALLY start my rando career rolling, start building a “resume”, start working towards various annual & lifetime awards RUSA offers. And when I finally got there, it was every bit as fun as I thought it would be.  Again, I’ve rarely in my life BEEN more content.

I realized it was so foolish to throw this away for the sake of some cheap-thrill terrible food that savaged my soul, my spirit and my body.  This wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing, and I knew it.

Fortunately I am back “clean” now; and with it, the entire mindset has flipped 180 degrees as if overnight.  Cycling no longer seems like a “chore” but rather it’s what I found many months ago that I had a deep affection for; and happily, yesterday I returned successfully to randoing with a completion of the Wander to Welda route.  I’ve now ridden this route for 6 of my 10 successful RUSA rides; soon I will diversify out further, although the choice of 100-km local routes is a short list.

The ride surely wasn’t easy; it was a HOT mother of a day, topping out at 100+ degrees.  The bank clock in town read 100 when I finished the ride.  I felt great and was DOING great for the first roughly 47 miles; the last 15 were sheer hell.  I dialed back on my hydration just when I needed to really up it due to the growing heat of the day; and I suffered mightily as a result.  I definitely went into dehydration territory, and despite crawling to the finish (yes at a trailhead rest I thought of Julie Moss – Google if ya don’t know) and then drinking very aggressively for the afternoon & evening to rehydrate, I didn’t really feel “normal” again till this morning, after an 8+ hour sleep.  But, as I told a friend this morning, I DID in fact recover (or at least, I’m nearly back to 100%) and I learned some lessons & emerged a stronger rider.

And, this ride was notable for three other important reasons.

One, relating to heat – I’ve now put the really hot months in my aspirational P-12 streak behind me.  June, July, August and September are in the books.  Now I’ll have 1-3 mild months, 1-3 downright cold ones, and end on a couple mild ones.

Reason two – I did in fact extend my P-12 streak to five months.  I rode once in May, twice in June, three times each in July and August, and now added September to the streak.  Five months down with seven to go.  Of course, my intention isn’t to magically “stop” after 12 months.  I intend to knock out a 100-km RUSA ride every month for as long as my fascination with cycling holds.

Reason three – I earned my RUSA 1000-km award!!  Harkening back to a much earlier post, I set the goal to win this award (given to riders who ride 1000 RUSA kilometers in a calendar year) this year.  At that early point, I intended to do it “only” (quote-unquote) by doing my one ride per month for the P-12 plus a couple additional rides (since I started in May not January); I didn’t at that time envision ramping up and trying to do 2, 3, 4+ RUSA rides in a month.  But that’s the plan now. I’m very gratified and excited to have earned this award – my first RUSA award of any kind (I will receive it in 2014 of course), and now want to continue to up my mileage for the year.  I HOPE to achieve a 3000-km award for this year; although that will be pretty aggressive. We’ll see what comes; but to have achieved my 2013 goal with nearly four months to spare is wonderful.

No randoing for me till, at earliest, midweek the week of September 16th – so roughly 9ish days away.  But, soon it’s my intention to return to at least one RUSA ride per week if not more.

And I am VERY content to be living the dream once again.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: