I'm joining some pals for an out-of-town, long-weekend bike getaway soon. Real soon. And I haven't been riding. At all. There's gonna be a fair amount of climbing on this getaway, which requires a modicum of fitness, and so you can begin to understand the dilemma I am facing, assuming you are not sloshed out of your mind on this pseudo Saint Patrick's Day holiday (I heard there was a "bar parade" downtown today, that entailed the participants beginning their drinking at 6 am. Seriously? That sounds gross. What has become of this fine holiday that remembers my patron namesake? But I digress.)
Anyway, it appears that I am not the only one of our group facing this particular dilemma (although I don't mean to imply that they suck anywhere near as big as I do. To be clear). One of the guys going is Alex, and he mentioned the other day that his goal was to ride 100 miles before the trip.
100 miles. Over a couple of weeks.
I considered this same goal for myself, and cringed, apparently oblivious to the fact that I am currently shaped like a pear on stilts. In another time and place, that would have seemed like chump change. I'm sure there are more times than not in Alex's riding history that this would have seemed like peanuts, as well. The difference between us is that he has the capacity to recognize and accept reality, while I am obviously trapped in a fantasy world.
Furtunately, people can change, and after ponderating over this for a day or two, it began to make such perfect sense . . . given the shit shape I am in, the lack of time I have available to ride, and the short days and sporadic Spring weather windows in which to fit said riding, 100 miles ended up seeming like the perfect goal. It's achievable. And substantial enough that it would generate the desired modicum of fitness. Just enough, maybe, to work through that early season level of pain that just flat sucks, and cross the threshold into the type of pain that is somewhat tolerable if not downright enjoyable. And getting past the hucking of substantial quantities of gunk out of your lungs after a short burn . . . and other such type things.
The unacceptable alternative is to set a goal that is not achievable and therefore so overwhelming that you never even begin to pursue it. And show up for the "vacation" poised to deposit your lunch and your dignity on the trail.
So thanks, Alex, kickass idea.
And these are my rules (not Alex's, because great ideas don't come with such rigid stipulations): Any bike, any road or trail, any time of day or night. Just 100 miles.
It has thus begun. 21.8 miles today, at the blazing average speed of 12.4 mph. In my defense, a fair amount of elevation change was involved. Certain dues were therefore paid. Certain benefits will eventually be reaped. I can only hope. Holy hell.