July 28, 2013

The right attitude

After the last couple of weeks since the Iowa weekend, I've clearly
(last post) come to a boiling point with regards to my riding. And
while it remains premature, and it may well be, to say "it's all
fixed," the successful 200km ride finished last night certainly helped
point my feet in the correct direction.

I appreciate the folks that offered encouragement and advice while I
bounced off the bottom of my own canyon; but, that's exactly the point
I'll make here... I fall, but I usually bounce - and perhaps I bounce
higher that I had been before the fall itself.

Yesterday I rode the Princeton Roundabout route, and had a terrific
time. I gave myself a comfortable goal of 12 hours total to finish -
no pressure. In fact, going forward, my only real goal will be NOT to
set any aside from completing the ride within RUSA's constraints.
Therein, should I finish quicker: great! Yet, should I need all the
time, I don't get unnecessarily depressed over a goal not reached.
There lay the very precepts of randonneuring itself: the ride should
be enjoyed, but still finished within a reasonable timeframe. I had
created within myself a pressure based on benchmarks no one else had
enforced. Sure, I like riding with company - but their pace is not
always my pace. Being okay with that is the sign of a confident
rider; not a weak, slow rider. Strong riders complete rides at all
speeds - and, as difficult as it is for me to let go of this concept:
speed isn't important. Sigh.

That actually feels good to type.

Now that it doesn't matter, it seems I knocked off on of my best
rolling average speeds in months yesterday. The tone had been set in
June with Glen, until we hit road construction. Getting the bike
saddle back where it should have stayed prior to Iowa proved perfectly
cozy all day yesterday, which inspired my performance. Having rotated
the handlebars upward, creating a more comfortable cockpit, yielded
benefits which vaguely reminded me of how I used to sit on the bike a
decade ago. Comfortable, yet poised for tempo. By racing standards
my speed was modest; but, these are standards I will no longer aspire
to or drone-on about, as much as I admire them. I not a racer, and I
was never going to be one. I am much more comfortable in my own skin
as a "strong tourist." Consistency... Ha... That will take some more
rides like yesterday.

As will control time efficiency. Definitely in the tourists camp for
this category, I enjoyed far more stops and photo breaks - which I
will post later - capturing a train flyby, wondering exactly where
that cool, old concrete arch bridge was hiding is Osawatomie, as well
as the Adair cabin and other sights. Stopping to gaze up into the
deep blue skies while a hawk (or eagle?) whistled and screeched with
joy while soaring on thermals hundreds of feet above me. Stopping
along Cedar Creek to finally snap a few pics of that cool old truss
bridge. Watching some deer, as they watched me. Stopping to pet the
tiny, enthusiastic dog that decided to chase me when I decided all he
wanted to do was play. Stopping on a side road off the John Brown
highway when the rain started, to lay down, face up, and just let it
fall on me, instead of hiding under the brim of my cycling cap.
Chatting with a local farmer about how Ottawa is getting too big and
busy while enjoying a breakfast sandwich at McDonalds (cheers, Klink).
Chatting with a local cab driver in Paola, who gave me her card with
the offer of a ride home should I ever need one. Basically, I kept a
cool head and calm demeanor about the clock - comfortably staying well
clear of the control closures... Yet, rode fast enough to make up for
it, yet, somehow never felt rushed. I didn't tape over the speed
readout like I'd planned... Instead, this time, not consciously
decided, when I saw a number I didn't like, I shifted up a gear and
pushed harder... And guess what, Gates? My body didn't explode and I
didn't run end up wishing for reserves at the end of the ride. Hmmm.
How hard I push at mile 50 may not have anything to do with how tired
I feel at mile 100. That's me getting out of my own head ... Ride for
NOW. Later will come, whether I worry about it or not. Enjoy.
Smile. Pedal hard.

While this is dangerous business for someone pursuing R-12 consistency
on the last available weekend in July, it worked out - and with no-one
to hurry me along at the controls, I just took my sweet time about
things (not saying that's a bad thing - to be clear, *I* am the one
rushing to stay with people, they have never rushed me).

More to come... For now, feeling good!

1 comment:

Monkeywrangler said...

Wish I could talk with you about speed, our the lack thereof, and being willing to"let go" and just be happy riding.

I failed in my first and only Rando attempt and also can't seem to keep up with the local clubs and their"slow" rides...which are no where near as slow as they advertise.

Speed=time as you know, and I just don't have 12+hrs I can afford to spend riding a brevet. I can do the distance, I don't have the time...

I also get tired of riding alone all the time.
A grumpy former Kansan from Lawrence,