The feelings associated with cycling

I am probably the last guy in the world anyone would expect to “talk about my feelings”, so in order to keep up that perception I will talk about the feelings of cycling. Originally, this post was going to be another “rant” about how cold this past ride was, but after reading the blog postings of those I follow, I see that I am not alone. We are all sick of the cold weather. Enough said.

Yesterday we rolled out around 10:30AM  in balmy 30°F weather for another “spring” training ride. Like the last ride, it was supposed to hurt. It definitely delivered on that promise. Scheduled at 70 miles, and 5000+ feet of climbing with 4 climbs in the Category 4 rating , this ride wiped us out. So much so, that at mile 55, when we couldn’t find a place with water to refill, we were running out of motivation. It was suggested that we cut the ride short and end around 60 miles. Who am I to argue when my legs feel like sacks of pudding, my lungs are burning and my feet feel like frozen blocks of ice?

Through all of the cold, the pain and the anguish, I still consider this to be a great ride. There is something about cycling that makes it all worth it. It could be that cycling is one of the closest feelings to flying.  Not when you are climbing 10% grades for miles on end, but when you are descending them at 40mph. It could be that exhaustion helps relieve mental stress.  Just the simple idea of putting everything you have, all of your possible effort in to something is satisfying. Maybe it is the endorphins that kick in and somewhere along the way you realize that you feel great. Perhaps it is the accomplishments, knowing that each time you ride, you are a little better than you were last time. On several of the large climbs I was off the front of the group. That is a feeling I haven’t had before. I was usually alone on the climbs, but at the back.

Of course the next day I am sore, but I am sore in a good way. The kind of sore that reminds me of how hard the workout was, and how much stronger I will be tomorrow. I can’t imagine my life now without cycling. I know that sounds crazy, but cycling provides a level of stability in my life that is therapeutic. When I ride, all of my stress from my life melts away. All of life’s problems clearly come in to focus. By drowning out all of the rabble of every day events, everything comes in to focus. There was a book written a while ago about how we think best when we aren’t thinking. I find that to be true when I am on the bike.

Freedom.  The best way to describe exactly how I feel on the bike. I am in complete control while I am riding. I push has hard or as little as I want. I don’t have to react to any outside forces, other than universal constants like gravity. I have the feeling of being a kid again, every time I ride.

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