As I was covering many miles of backcountry road on my bike last Saturday, I had a revelation. I do not question many simple things in life, but sometimes I wonder why I love being on my bike so much.Riding fast or slow always gives me these uplifted feelings of joy, freedom and puts me into a very relaxed (and sometimes very tired!) state. Sometimes, it feels like the best therapy available and I have discovered why.
Preceding this particular ride, I wasn't in the best of moods. With a lot of things on my mind, I hadn't slept well the evening before and was feeling generally 'blah' (the best scientific way to describe it) for a few days . This is not the norm for me, but it did remind me of some of the more stressful times I have had and how I just told myself to get on my bike and it would be figured out by the end of my ride. I kind of felt like the wind was missing from my sails.
The Epic Ride
The morning of the ride, as I got myself ready, I became increasingly happier as I filled water bottles & packed some nuts & fruit in my back pocket. I had a long day ahead of me, and though tempted to not go, I had people counting on me to show up. Also, my new 'long-distance riding' hubby was joining me on the ride. Since he was up at 5:30am to get ready for the ride, I knew he'd like some company (and some coffee made..). I don't think he would have let me sleep in, even if I wanted to..
Showing up at the dark parking lot at 6:30am, I thought to myself what I usually think when I do these very early rides/runs/swims. "I see crazy people." Of course, I mean that in the best possible way. My teammates were pumping their tires full of air and exchanging early morning 'hello's'. By 6:45am, a group of ten of us were on the road, beginning our journey into the mountains, with our bright bike lights flashing behind us. I didn't think to wear full-tipped gloves, so my hands were absolutely freezing for the first 45 minutes! I wasn't thinking clearly on this one. Then again, I never have began a ride in the pitch black and cooler weather.
As we churned our sleepy legs up the mountainside, the sun was coming up in the horizon, and I saw how beautiful it was to be out here.One of the best part of an early morning training days are the sunrises. By the time we reached the top, I could feel my fingers again and all those stress-filled feelings disappeared. I began to feel refreshed..
Gliding down the next descent, we began to ride in a more desolate area. With the Pacific Ocean looming in the distance, we could see for miles in all directions. Rolling through the hills, I could feel something. A lightness. I was experiencing a whole gust of wind (literally and figuratively ) through my body. There it is! Cycling. It is the wind beneath my wings. The energy of my body propels the pedals which set off a seemingly endless amount of energy in my heart and soul. And it only gets better the longer the ride is. Maybe there is a max point, but I didn't find it that day. This is not to say the ride was easy. In no way was it easy. We covered 110 miles with 10,500 feet of climbing. It was the hardest bike ride I have ever done. However, it was probably one of the most restoring activities I have ever done.
The energy I obtained from this ride put me back to a good mood/calming energy state and gave me a refreshed perspective. It's amazing what 8 hours on a bike can do for you!
My training plan is just picking up. With IM Lake Tahoe less than six months away, there are many more hills I must climb on my bike, many more miles to run at the track and many more laps to swim at the pool. Having said that, I have made some huge gains this year just from my base training and as racing season approaches, I will have more opportunities to test my nutrition and progress. I wholeheartedly view racing as a privilege and being injury free so far (my running feeling stronger again) adds to my excitement to get to those starting lines!