Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pushing It

This was a day when the skies wept. It rained nonstop from before sunrise until after I got off work. It was also a day that is a viable candidate for “must frustrating day of the year” award, not just because of the rain, and that was before the 2000 lb beast decided to eat part of its own engine. Oh, boy.

My Lovely Lovely and I were finally headed home after running some necessary errands. There were still two hours until sunset, but the sky was gray and it almost looked like twilight out. We passed a cyclist who was waiting to turn onto the road we were on, and my head perked up like a dog on a scent.

“What is it?” my Lovely Lovely asked.

“I want to see if it’s anyone I know.”

Am I the only that does this? The sight of someone else out riding makes me happy. Of course, it also makes me jealous, so I am a study in contradiction.

We made it home, and I asked how long before dinner would be ready. When asked why I wanted to know, I said that, if was going to be a while, I might head out for a short ride.

“Go ahead,” my Lovely Lovely said. May all cyclists be blessed with a wife who has the same attitude as mine does.

I got the trusty old Trek 1000 out and took it for a quick spin. I hadn’t been on it in a while, but it’s nice to let it stretch its wheels every now and again. I picked a nice loop with several hills and hit the road. It was a short loop, and I decided to go as hard has I could go.

How do you make yourself go as hard as you can go? I have a friend who can practically grind himself down into the dust with his own effort. I have another friend who never pushes herself on the bike unless someone else makes her. If she’s riding alone, she won’t break a sweat.

I was pushing myself hard today but, as I was going up hill number…ah, heck, I don’t know…I found myself starting to flag. That’s the moment of truth, right? Can you make yourself kick it back up a notch at that moment or not? In this case, the answer turned out to be “yes,” and I found myself wondering why some people seem to be able to do that sort of thing all the time and others don't seem to be able to do it at all.

It’s much easier for me to push myself to my limit if I’m trying to catch up with someone who’s ahead of me or keep up with someone. It’s harder if I’m alone and have to dig up the strength from nowhere except my own motivation to get better.

Chuck says, “Cycling brings out the character that’s in you, or, if it isn’t in you, it puts it there.”

As I was going down a hill near the end of the route with another hill waiting just in front of me, I found myself coasting to catch my breath before having to go up again, and I heard Keith’s voice in my ear. “Pedal up, pedal down.” I didn’t want to pedal down the hill. I wanted to catch my breath.

Still, I had set myself a somewhat ambitious minimum pace for the route and I managed to make it, so I was pleased. I got some miles, I got the blood pumping, I let off some stress, life is good.

See you on the road.

Here's another video of the Ventures featuring Bob Bogle on lead guitar.

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