Here I am
Decades drifted away
So, here I am
The phantom pain seems here to stay
You’ll work it out…
Or so I’ve heard
Still, here I am
And it feels like yesterday
– Freak Kitchen
Today’s ride really explains why it’s called endurance. I find myself pedaling around without any real skill, just needing to endure the whole experience. My body is sore, my legs are relatively unresponsive, my hands are numb, and my back is cramping. I just have to keep pedaling and not pay attention to my speed or my pace or the time it’s taking to complete the trip. I would rather just focus on getting the next few strokes in.
It’s just surprising that I’ve reached this stage at Day 4 because I was expecting to have these types of symptoms on Day 5. However, even going at this snail pace, I’m not concerned that I won’t finish, it just appears that I won’t finish at the particular time that I had originally planned.
Waking up this morning was particularly challenging. Even after getting up, I found myself in a stupor, really unable to eat or move for several minutes and the pace of my morning preparation of packing everything and tending to my first aid needs all happened very slowly and meticulously whereas on Day 1, that all happened quickly and was driven by the clock, trying to get out at exactly 2 a.m.
Today’s ride is definitely at the top of the list of worst rides ever. There’s a certain despairing mentality that sets in when you reach down to try and generate more power and you succeed but the power that you’re putting out is minimal, at best. My overall speed for the day was abysmal and even when I did find some modicum of rhythm, when I looked down at my speed, it was 2mph to 5mph slower than what I had expected to see. The entire time I’m also thinking about how I have to saddle up again the following day.
Now, one benefit is there is no time limit. As one astute observer recognized, it’s all but certain that I’m going to “win the race.” But speed is a factor when considering the suffering of the pains and aches and nonsense that my body is going through. Those issues only increases the more time spent biking so if I can move faster, I can shrink down the amount of time required to finish the ride. As it stands right now, if I keep the same speed and pace that I had today, I’ll finish tomorrow’s ride in 17 hours. That prospect is not fun to think about.
Even when I did manage to find some semblance of a rhythm, it was when I was biking through the Cleveland area, so my pace was still low because of all the stop lights. I did appreciate that part of the bike ride, though, because it reminded me of biking through my old neighborhood in Philly. Such biking requires constant vigilance and really a game of “Guess What This Car is Gonna Do.” Are they going to stop at that stop sign or just go right through it? You have to pay attention as the two lanes turn into one lane turns into no lanes turns into a bike lane but then the bike lane ends and then you have to merge cuz that’s a right-turn-only lane and this car is coming in at an intersection and that car’s deciding to run a yellow light and this car here is riding you and honking because you’re not on the sidewalk even though riding on the sidewalk is illegal (bonus points for longest run-on ever that I’m not going to even bother editing because it’s that impressive).
I found myself thinking about the inherently flawed notion of fate today. People often say that they found their soulmate or that they were meant to be together and everything happens for a reason. I find this to be a lazy mechanism that allows people to come to terms with whatever choice they’ve made and get rid of any feelings or reservations about leaving choices on the table. See, if fate decided who they’d end up spending their life with, then it doesn’t matter if there were other options out there. But logically, the idea that your circle where you have limited contact with the seven billion people on the planet elicited the exact match that you’re supposed to have doesn’t really make that much sense. Factor in the divorce rates in countries that allow for relationships and marriages to occur based on the idea of love rather than in an arranged situation and you wonder why so many people get divorced if they all purport that they ended up with the person they were fated to be with.
My relationship with my wife is not a product of some cosmological plan or preordained notion. We met by happenstance and spent years building up a relationship and a rapport that allows us to try to maintain some semblance of civility whenever we see each other. And I don’t need the idea of fate to convince me that I appreciate who she is and I appreciate the feelings that I have for her.
When you’re riding in an aura of pain and despair like it seemed was happening to me today, you’re reminded of certain things like that because the person that you end up thinking about in those times is the person that you care about the most. And for me, that person happened to be my wife.