Can we ever be fast enough? Is it possible to feel skinny enough or young enough? Are we simply wired to always want more of everything? How is it we can have so much and still not be satisfied? Is it aspiration or gluttony?
I recently felt wiped out after a week of exceptionally hard physical activity. When I shared that with Hottie she reminded me how much I had done. In my head I wanted to say, “Yeah, but I want to be able to do that and not be shattered.” Alas, I am a selfish, greedy bastard.
My unquenchable desire for more includes suffering on the bike. I very much enjoy a pleasant ride with Hottie or my guy friends, but I also enjoy the solitary suffering in purgatory that comprises the virtually unexplainable part of the cycling mystique. Rule #5 as we say. The belief that there is honor and glory in suffering is at odds with logical thinking. I am not sure if my affinity for suffering has its roots in a long expired religious belief, or some other thorn-infested gauntlet that can best be ascribed to our fascination with The Hero’s Journey. Regardless of its origins, not only do I cheerfully accept my allotted suffering, when I do not suffer I miss it.
Nothing says Happy New Year like Shirnkage
I am at my core a fan of efficiency. I recoil at wasted effort. As an example I point to a recently implemented tax on carbonated beverages that contain sugar. The stated goal is to reduce obesity, yet every study on the subject shows it has no positive effect whatsoever. The studies show that when people can’t get their sugar in sodas they get it from something else. No net reduction in sugar intake. Not opinion; fact. The tax on cigarettes works because when cigarettes cost more people predictably buy fewer cigarettes but they then don’t go work in a coal mine to achieve the same amount of lung damage. I’d like to believe these are intentioned people, but I think a more accurate perspective is that they just want to raise taxes for their own selfish benefit.
The secret sauce of riding fast is intervals. Intervals hurt. At some point I began to find a spiritual or meditative value to the suffering that is independent of the training benefit. I have found that it takes more discipline to go easy on the easy days than it does to go hard on the hard days. Once you open the throttle you just let it go, holding back takes constant attention.
Hottie reading my Kyson
I am too old to ever expect that I will be a fast rider. This does not bother me in the least. Yet I still want to be able to train hard as if it mattered. It may not always make sense, but I want more. That is just the way it is.