April 26, 2008

Focus: 400

Today was a weird day - the annual KCUC 300K was taking place up in Liberty, headed to Albany and back on a simply terrific, and amazingly challenging, route through some of hte best views the western Missouri contryside has to offer. The fields were green early this year, the winds were light, the temps were chilly - but managable with the sunshine. There was even the rare, rare promise of a double TAIL-wind for once, which makes this tough route almost enjoyable. Rain was forecast for the afternoon - but nothing horrid, and nothing good fenders and a rain jacket wouldn't stave off - and it would only be for the last few hours of the ride.
With the conditions on tap, it was almost a ride that wouldn't require a headlight.

But, the weird thing was that I wasn't there. I don't know why, exactly -- done it before, looked forward to it, got everything ready for it, had a nutrition plan for it, the bike was ready, and I thought I was ready, too. Things started to unfold in the garage the night before. Strike one was a nasty puncture wound to my right hand, directly to the heel of the hand, below the thumb -- pretty much RIGHT where my brake hood would be pressed all day long. A lot of blood and a lot of pressure later, I got it under control. As I type this it still hurts -- three nice punctures, the middle one fairly deep, caused by the big chainring on my bike - nay, caused by me getting in a hurry and not wearing my thick leather gloves - something I usually do when changing out pedals - just in case my hand is in the wrong place when the pedal threads finally give way. I think I was just in a hurry or something, and I got stupid - didn't even go to the other side of the bike to loosen the non-drive pedal to swap it out for the lighter, nicer pedals for the ride. The torque was reached, the threads let go, and my hand and the handle of the 8mm ratchet went slamming into the chainring just as hard as a fist to the table during an angry speech. I mean, HARD force, and I had to pull my hand off the ring. Yeah, nasty. That's one painful way to clean three teeth of a chainring, I tell ya.

Not a show stopper, by any means. Patch it up, stop the bleeding, wash it out, even gritting thru a little scrubbing to get the metal flakes and old lube out of the upper layers of skin. By the morning, it'd be fine -- and, in retrospect now, it probably would have been fine. But, pile this up to an especially NASTY week at work, a broken air conditioner at the house, a nice little stolen credit card and potential identity theft scare -- you know, a good, long ride is exactly what I REALLY needed this weekend, but I am mentally toast. Stress? I've got some currently, and when the alarm clock rang, I simply didn't want it badly enough. There was nothing wrong with the day except my frame of mind. I think part of me was resorting to the notion that "I already have April", in regards to the R-12 possibility. There was another part of me that was in sort of a "been there, done that" mode lately, and yeah - I've done this route a lot, if only once a year. Another contributor to my DNS was the weather -- it was cold this morning, 34ºF on the thermometer when I woke up at 4:00AM, and it wasn't forecast to ride much above 60 -- the latter of those two numbers makes for a REALLY nice day in the saddle, but the former number made me almost angry, frustrated -- I was still "done with winter", and after a couple weeks of lower 70 degree temps in the afternoons and very mild pre-dawn mornings, to see a winter-like number again, it just didn't sit well on top of all the other mental thorns I was already using as justification to not try. I'd ridden in colder, wetter, nastier - as recently as two months ago. There was no REAL excuse anywhere to be found; but the injury, the stress, and the final nail of the sour turn in climate put this one down. Now, I haven't ridden much, either -- but I was rising above that argument. Let's see: I have ridden FIVE TIMES in April. Granted, one of those was a 200K, but still. That's pathetic for a mileage hog like myself. I'm not gonna lose any sleep over it - but maybe back in my head I felt like I wasn't ready, either. There was something about today's task that felt un-doable... and the fact that I call it a "task" means that I probably wasn't ready to ENJOY it. Randonneuring is all mental - and that's all this was.

So, I slept in a little bit, talked with the wife when she came awake and her first question was "so, what are you thinking about?" -- knowing that I clearly had missed the ride since I was still home. We chatted, and that always helps. I hung out with the kids for a little bit, and then decided that I'd at least try to do SOMEthing on the bike, since I was supposed to be gone anyways. I rode up to a local bike store for an advertised 9:00am ride, probably in the 45 mile range I think. Unfortunately, nobody showed up -- so at 9:05, I started back for home, took a little detour by riding thru Heritage Park, then down to Antioch to climb the big BIG hill, then across 191st Street over to Lackman, even enjoyed a little "cobblestone" action on the 3-mile long sorta-paved section. Then turned north and called it a morning. Mileage? Not much at all, really -- no where near the 186 that I had planned and packed for. Average, near 17.2mph, which is better than I expected. It just wasn't in the cards today, but it was a good little ride, and it's better than nothing.

As I type this, some of the riders are still out there on the brevet route. Part of me wants to be there... but a larger part of my soul just isn't there today. Sometimes, life is like this. I got the yardwork done, ran some errands, and had fun playying with the kids -- and as I always seem to miss it every year I ride the 300K, I took them to their school's annual fun-fair tonite. That was a blast! A wasted day? Not hardly!

The only thing this means is that my SR series is in jeopardy now... which means sometime between now and October 31st I have to find a 300K somewhere. I need to get over this, forgive myself, let the barrage of comments that will likely come in email on Monday roll off my back, and just get back on it. Get on the bike, commute, make up the saddle-time, and focus on the 400K, which is only two weeks out. There is no reason I can't be ready for that - and get my spirit back. If I feel up to it, and there are no "issues" next weekend, an early morning century will have the body ready for the mileage of the 400K -- considering the "training" I've had for the 200Ks I've completed since the first of the year, a solid century under my belt will be fantastic for the motor. No, I don't think it's burn-out, I examined that possibility - and I've had such fun at the three 200K's I've ridden this year.... I just think I got beat this morning, mentally. It happens -- move on, Dude. I actually think that had I been riding to work more, the recent stresses might not have weighed so heavy, SO heavy that I didn't think a long brevet would help any. I have been in this scenario before, pushed myself to start it, and ended up having a blast and getting my mental clock cleaned out. Today, I just didn't have the push - the mental energy - to force myself to drive up there to "just do it." Sometimes, I still catch myself thinking too much.

I just took a deep breath .... typing this out helps, too. Thanks for reading --- Boring, self-absorbed, perhaps -- but I have to remind that a lot of this blog thing is self-theraputic.
I appreciate your support, and I hope I don't come across too "blow-own-horn"-ish.
I digress.... the 400K, another great route, and even if it is raining cats and dogs, I'm all over it.

Thanks again, ya'll. Ort -- blow up that air matress again.... I need a 300K. :)

1 comment:

Andrew said...

You need to put a warning on posts like this about possible de-motivating content. I read this on a 36° morning before my commute to work. I almost lost my will to get on the bike.

Actually, most of the time you do motivate me. You are the reason that I got into randonneuring. I think one of the reasons that I like your blog is that you post about your successes and your failures. It is a lot more exciting to read about you finishing an epic ride if I don't know whether or not you finished when I start reading.

Here's a link to my post about the ride that almost didn't happen.