It’s no secret that I REALLY love cycling. I love riding my bike. I love the endorphine buzz you get post-ride. I love being outside pushing it regardless of the elements. I love the dull soreness your body feels after you shread yourself on a ride (and that no one knows but you). I love watching road & cyclocross races in person, on TV, or even via interweb streams w/Czech or Flemish commentary (“Snible furble furble Flecha!”). I love bike frames! I love bike wheels & components! I love bike culture and all the sub-genres-yes, there are lots. I love cycling racing books & the uber geeky bike fetish magazines. I love the smell of embro in the morning. I love the clothes even though most make me look a fat brightly colored sausage. I love the all too rare good bike shop.
But what I really love about cycling is that there can be these amazing peaks and valleys in your body’s performance while riding your bike. Some days you feel like you can fly all day long. Some days you feel like utter dog shit and you’ll swear you are slogging along on a sandy beach. And then some days you’ll get those extremes and everything in between during the course of a ride. It’s weird…hilarious…frustrating…awesome.
Today’s ride to Piermont, NY was just such day. An unexpected cross headwind kicked my butt riding up along the Hudson River. I didn’t feel good at all even though it was warm & the sun was out. Then I got across the GW Bridge and hit the initial itty bitty hills and really felt like crap. I decided to spin a higher cadence and just enjoy the sun versus pushing hard. Then I started to pass the CNBC and Unilever offices on 9W and I was just slogging. It had nothing to do with hydration or calories as I was consuming both (water, Perpetuem, Clif Bloxs & Gels). I was just slow, slow, slow. And then on the gentle slopes going north on 9W, my right achilles started aching. Like WTF?
Your mind starts playing tricks on you - it makes it hurt worse than it does. What happens if it suddenly pops? I feel like crap, I should just turn around now. Man I can’t get any speed…etc. etc. It’s easier for me to bury these thoughts when you are riding with someone or in a group (i.e. peer pressure) but today I was lone wolfing it and had to bury the stupid thoughts alone.
There are times in cycling when you are supposed to “suffer.” It’s part of sprinting and pushing yourself until your lungs are burning. It’s definitely part of climbing steep grades on hills and mountains and absolutely shreading your legs. You suffer, finish, and it’s all “Hella yeah, I just did that.” Clearly this wasn’t that kind of a ride.
I almost turned around at the NY state line before the descents into Piermont. I pulled over and did a couple of circles at the sign. The stupid achilles was really aching but I finally thought “Eff it, I’m not gonna pussy out. I’m 10 minutes away from coffee!”
Sure enough, !0 minutes later:
Some power Java & a cinnamon chip scone later, it was time to head south slogging UP the hills of 9W.
Now here the fun part. I started climbing up the first pitch and I kinda felt good. Huh? My achilles had stopped aching. My legs felt good and I was just spinning up the inclines. I wasn’t breaking any speed records but I FELT OK. The double macchiato and brief rest had kicked in but it was more than that. My entire body felt better. I kept my cadence going at in the 80s and I was fine. Once I got off the initial three steep inclines out of Piermont…BOOM 21-23 mph on the rolling hills to the GW Bridge. Huh? Riding South on 9W is supposed to be harder cause you are climbing instead of descending. But somehow your body gets fired up and all of the sudden you are killing it.
That’s why cycling is great…at least for me. My legs…are not so great. But they will be.