The first snowfall of the new season came a little early yesterday, capping off - for me - a long, arduous year. A roller-coaster of a year. A year of further self-discovery. I won't get into too much of that here, but, after a month or two of sitting down and thinking - calmly - I have emerged renewed, rested, and ... no, no... not ready. That, for me, is probably okay. For now.
I believe, for me personally, coming off a good streak of a few years' worth of R-12 rides perhaps warranted some rest, even with the difficulty of letting that streak go in July. With my shoulder repaired and healed, I started with good intentions to get right back on the proverbial horse; yet, I have not returned to the bike in earnest, nor have I kept my own promises about maintaining fitness and rising above the challenge of restricted activity. This is my personal struggle, not-so-personally outlined ad naseum throughout this blog's past. Even having run a half-marathon (er, jogged/walked) back in late July, I'd have thought myself motivated. It didn't last. So, knowing how I deal with personal stress, upheavals in the office, and the financial balancing-act that comes with teenagers in the house - here I am, another blank - blank, yes, but not white and clean; more tattered and beige - canvas on which to paint my next portrait. These are tales best left untold, at least unrecounted.
As I work toward a solution here, and to run the
old template for a quick fix, I turn once again to the bicycle. I have made some sales, I have fabricated some solutions, and have come up with - finally - a "real" front rando bag. A recent email teases, but, I personally know this about myself: on my quest toward being a "real" randonneur, I often turn to equipment first, instead of myself. I know I have pounds to lose again, and fitness to restore - but, getting the bicycle in order stages me to get to work. I've dusted off the treadmill and the free-weights, too, with a clean bill of health and my surgeon's restrictions lifted. The bike, however, needed some changes. After nearly 12 years untouched, all of my complaints have finally been addressed. A front bag with a map case I can actually see and use, but, completely free of the handlebars so I don't have to compromise hand positions and comfort during the ride. Storage for everything, and everything with its own pocket. Not too large, not too small; and, most importantly it follows the formulas of many randonneurs up to whom I often look. I understand that I still must pedal whatever bicycle I ride toward my goal, and there are hundreds if not thousands of riders that have finished P-B-P and other 1,200+ rides without "real" bags, without racks, without generator lights, some with backpacks. Thinking that GEAR will get me to my goals is silly - it helps, but it's not everything, and it's not what's been holding me back. My ONLY restrictions toward these longer goals remain with time and money, and to a lesser degree fitness - which is always available: not to be confused with "good," to be clear. The truth in the teasing emails I've read ribbing me into ride I feel unprepared for is that, yes, I *could* simply dust myself off, pack a few things, and ride 600 kilometers within 40 hours. Yes. No doubt. I might be miserable, tired, achy, cramped-up, and on the couch for a solid week afterwards... but, I'd probably be smiling and writing about it. Am I gonna do it? Nope... time, money.
Excuses? Yeah... but, each time I examine them, in reality, they're still pretty darn real.
My real issue here? Yeah, another excuse I need to rise above, mentally, involves the cold. I think I'm just darn tired of the cold. No, it's not been around very long - and I don't MIND it from a day-to-day perspective. It's cold on the bike. I know I have the gear, and I know I've done worst before... but, without a full, fun, sunshine-filled summer of 200km rides and daily commutes, I don't feel like I've had that full "reset" to prepare me for a scant 12-weeks of cold weather on the bike. Memories of last December... memories of slogging home a 200k in heavy snowfall... those were BIG landmarks, big accomplishments. Yet, I know I've only got a handful of those sort of efforts in me each year. I can't seem to find the ones I though I had laying around. More cold air coming next week behind this latest front, and the bike not completely road-ready from recent work... the excuses are piled high. The snow, meanwhile isn't. I'll get past this. Sucks... but, I'll get past it.
One dream I am letting slip - for the moment - are any DK aspirations (wait for it:) with this bicycle. I don't want compromise this time. While the Kogs, even as I'm nervous about field-testing these latest modifications, will still do well on gravel and light packed trails - it's not the droid I'm looking for. I need to get something that will actually take larger tires without feeling squeezed or limited, and I need something that I don't have to take halfway apart to prepare it for one ride per year. Now, I like gravel riding enough that I really DO want to explore, and I won't let the bike underneath me dictate whether or not I turn off the main road and off toward high adventure... but, a race? In the Flint Hills? Knowing what I know and have read? Yeah... that takes something special, and that is precisely what layaway at the local bike shop is for. So, it's not happening right away, no, but, the dream is still alive... I just grow tired of messing about with continuing to stretch the "one bike theory." Yeah, it's do-able... but, my motivation has always been more financial than a real desire to have only one bike. So, there you have it... I still want to do DK; but, I'm tired of making the excuse bike-based.
Now... back to ME. There's a treadmill downstairs with my name written in the dust. Time to work. One of these chilly days, I'll grow the stones to ride to work. THEN, those little embers back there in the corner of my mind will get a quick gust of breath... all I need is to get my butt out of the driveway.
And to play my Judas Priest vinyl backwards while I sleep.
"do it ...do it ...do it ...do it ...do it ...do it"
Do what, Beavis?... uuhh-huhuuhhhuhuuhhmmmmhuh