A “Hey You Should Read This” Note from Fatty: As you have probably noticed, The Swimmer, The Hammer, and I are all-in with TrainerRoad; it’s been making a big difference in for all three of us (more on this when I start my True Grit writeup). So it was pretty exciting to have TrainerRoad interview The Hammer and me about how we train together, especially since it really is something I think we really both are proud of.
Click here to check out the article, and feel free to leave a comment with tips or questions you might have about how partners can train together.
Today’s Accountability Check-In: Yesterday I did in fact do a double workout, as promised. In the morning, on my own, I did the first hour of the Tray Mountain workout and when The Hammer got home, we both did Darwin.
What I need to do now is pull back on how much I’m eating. With the number of calories I’m expending (more than 1500 yesterday) on exercise, I should start losing weight. But that only works if I don’t pig out. Which, so far, is not going well. My office is too close to the kitchen (they’re adjoining rooms). That doesn’t matter, though; my self-discipline needs to not be location-dependent. I guess.
Weight: As of this morning, my weight is 169.0 — two pounds down. I’m going to work hard today to keep this downward trend going.
Writing: I am making good progress on writing Fight Like Susan. And in fact, today I’m going to post an excerpt from the “Living With Chemo” chapter I worked on yesterday.
First, though, I’m going to ask you (again) to support me as I write this: please pre-order the book, the jersey, and any of the other gear (by the way, I have added women’s shorts to the gear available). Right now, as I’m writing this book, you are my source of income.
Hair (from the “Living Through Chemo” Chapter of Fight Like Susan)
When you go through most kinds of chemo, your hair’s going to fall out. It just is. There are people who will tell you stories and give you advice to make you think there are things you can do to prevent or slow hair loss. I know there were certainly people — too many people — who told Susan what she could do to keep her hair. Cold caps. Vitamins. Rogaine.
They were well-intentioned, I know. But they didn’t understand the devastating impact they had. By giving Susan advice on how to keep her hair, they were harming her in a couple ways. First, they were giving her false hope—making her think she would be able to hold onto her hair, when in reality most of it was going to fall out no matter what she did. Chemo just kills fast growing cells—and that includes not just cancer, but hair as well.
More importantly, though, by talking about how she could maybe keep her hair, friends were emphasizing how important appearances are. They were saying, essentially, “Hair’s worth the extra discomfort of an icepack on your head compounding the chemo headache you’ll have already.” Which is, frankly, a pretty rotten message to be giving to someone who’s just had a breast removed and is going to – whether she keeps her hair or not – going to be looking pretty sick and puffy (from the steroids that go along with the chemo) for the next several months.
In Susan’s case—yeah, she tried the cold cap—it didn’t matter anyway. One day, shortly after her second chemo treatment, I noticed a lot of hair had fallen onto her shoulders.
The next morning, it was a lot more obvious; it was all over her pillow.
By the time she got out of the shower that morning, Susan was crying. She showed me why, grabbing some hair close to her scalp and giving a tug. About a quarter of it came out. About as easy as pulling a few blades of grass out of the lawn.
And there it was: a new little bald spot where the hair had been.
I felt a moment of panic.
It wasn’t the knowledge that Susan would be bald soon. I had known that. It didn’t worry me. I had seen the TV shows, I had talked with the doctors.
Going bald wasn’t the cancer manifesting itself — no, that was the lump. Going bald was just the medicine’s side effects.
But I was still freaking out. Because you know that shouldn’t be happening. Just like skin shouldn’t be blistering. Just like eyes shouldn’t be red. A clump of hair falling out looks — to the people who care about you — like an injury.
So I asked Susan if I could cut it off. All of it, right then. I didn’t want to react any more; cutting it off would at least be me taking charge.
I don’t think she really wanted me to. I don’t think she was ready to let go of her hair; she hadn’t had time to say goodbye to it.
But she said yes. She could tell it bothered me. That I no longer regarded her hair as anything but a symptom.
So we went downstairs to the little kitchen we had in the rental house we were staying in while we shopped for a house in Sammamish (we were set on living in Sammamish) of our own. I got out the electric clippers, and I just cut it all off.
Front to back. Then side to side. Trying to only graze her skin, because — like everything else — it was already sensitive.
I finished, looked at her, and said, “You know I always had a thing for that bald robot chick in the first Star Trek movie, right?”
Fatty’s Daily Accountability Note: As I promised in my post last Friday, I am going to keep track of three things with each post: My weight, my training, and my status on Fight Like Susan.
- Weight: I weighed in at 171.0 pounds today. That’s not good, but it’s where I’m starting. My goal is to weigh 158 by the time I race the Rockwell Relay this June. So: two months to lose thirteen pounds. I can do that.
- Training: My plan is to do a TrainerRoad session after I send the kids off to school and the wife off to work each day, so of course things got started with a derailment. The wife has today off and one of my kids is sick. And Monday mornings is when we record The Paceline. So: I’m all those things and people are squared away for now, so I’m going to go do a TrainerRoad session as soon as I publish this post. I’m on the Sweet Spot Base – High Volume II schedule, doing Week 3. Which means I’m doing the Haeckel workout. [Update: Completed and recorded on both TrainerRoad and Strava.]
- Fight Like Susan: Today is the day I begin writing in earnest on this book, and I have to admit it feels a little bit like approaching a cliff. I know how I begin, though, so it’s not as scary as it could be. I’ll share some of what I write today when I post tomorrow. (And if you haven’t yet pre-ordered a copy, please check out what I’m doing, why, and what’s available. Thanks!)
Ride 3 (Including My “Last Ride on the Kokopelli” Story) Now Available — And So Is My Podcast With the Publisher
Way back in the beginning of 2015, I noted that I was working on a submission to go in the Ride 3 bike fiction anthology. I was excited to try my hand at fiction, but also scared — I’m comfortable writing about what’s going on in my life, but actually creating a story…well, that’s difficult and different.
I did, eventually, finish writing that story. And it did make it into the anthology.
And it’s out. You can buy it and read it today. Check out the cover:
It’s got my name in it and everything (buried almost exactly in the middle, as is the eternal curse of people whose last names start with “N.”
And — totally not coincidentally — last week I recorded a FattyCast with Keith Snyder, the publisher, editor, and book designer behind the Ride book series.
So, sure, this episode of the podcast is just a little bit self-serving, because my story — Last Ride On the Kokopelli — is in it. So sue me.
Self-promotion aside, in this episode of the FattyCast, Keith and I talk about why it’s important to not tell a story before you write it down, we talk about raising twins, we talk about earworms (and Keith sings one, surprisingly well), and we talk about his favorite kind of riding — randonneuring — and whether it’s nerdier to be a randonneur or a recumbent rider.
If I were you, I’d listen to this episode of the FattyCast right now. Which you can do by subscribing in iTunes, or by just downloading, getting my RSS feed, or listening right here:
And Now For A Little Sneak Peek
Here’s an interesting experiment: go back and read the beginning of the story I wrote back in January 2015. Get that fixed in your head. The tone. The characters. The perspective.
Because hardly any of that actually made it into the final cut of the story.
Here’s the first quarter of the story, as it now reads in the book:
Last Ride on the Kokopelli
It was past time to get started again, but Lewis was in no hurry. He knew he should be in a hurry—the three guys he was riding with were way ahead of him by now—but he wasn’t. This ride hadn’t been turning out as he had imagined it, and it was good to be on his own.
Lewis always looked forward to reaching Dewey Bridge. It was a cool old landmark, it signaled that the most technical part of the Kokopelli Trail was behind you, and it meant you could fill up on water in the Colorado River.
Lewis stood on the narrow old bridge, one foot on the ground, one clipped in. He held the Camelbak’s drink tube between his teeth, sipping warm, silty water. He’d taken almost fifteen minutes to filter about 150 ounces. Plenty to get to Westwater, the next place he could expect to fill up.
It was noon now, but it already felt like it had been a long day. And in fact, it had been: they’d been riding for seven hours.
All the big climbing behind them, the promise of a brutally hot day ahead.
Already close to ninety degrees, and no breeze at all. This is going to get ugly. I guess I’d better go catch up with those three assholes.
But he didn’t go, not yet. He wasn’t the slowest guy in the group; he’d catch up. And he’d earned a little time to himself. Needed it.
Everet can be such a prick.
It wasn’t the first time that day he had thought it. Lewis had invited Everet on this ride because he knew Everet could handle twenty hours on the saddle, but that wasn’t the only reason. He’d invited him because he knew Everet. Thought he had, anyway.
This ride—The Kokopelli Trail, Moab to Mack, all 142 miles of it, in one day—is no joke. And you don’t invite just anyone to come ride it with you. You choose who comes on rides like this carefully. There are rules for this kind of thing.
Case in point: Lewis had invited Everet only after observing him, seeing how Everet handled himself in 24-hour races, how he knew when to talk and when to shut up and put his head down on big training rides. After he showed he respected big distances on bikes and what they mean. After it was clear Everet knew the rules.
And then, two days before the ride, Everet said to Lewis, “Hey, I was talking to a couple of guys I ride with about coming and doing this ride with us, is that OK?”
“Sure, that’s fine,” Lewis said. But of course it wasn’t fine. Invitees don’t get to be inviters. Didn’t Everet know the rule?
And that’s how Lewis’ most important ride of the year—this beautiful and quiet ride—had become a loud and confrontational networking event. Everet, Trevor and Harlan—all three worked at the same company, Lewis was now learning, and Everet was Harlan’s manager—yelling about competing product lines, scrum meeting etiquette, and slipping release dates…as they ignored the trail around them.
To make matters worse, Harlan seemed to think he was an Australian Shepherd, surging forward and dropping back, trying to keep the group together. Meanwhile, Trevor kept quoting from Adam Sandler movies.
Lewis needed to get away from them, and intentionally dropped further and further behind, so that by the time he had gotten to Dewey Bridge, the other three riders were nowhere in sight.
Well, they either filtered water really fast and continued on, or they…just went on.
Those guys probably gambled they had enough to get them to the Westwater Station. But it won’t be. Nothing I can do about it now.
If I don’t get moving, it’ll be three in the morning before we finish.
He clipped in and rode across the bridge.
— — —
Are you seriously trying to make this ride into a race?
Lewis had been pushing the pace since the beginning of the ride, and Trevor was sick of it. He, Everet, and Harlan were just trying to enjoy an epic day in the saddle, but Lewis kept half-wheeling or outright pulling ahead.
What is your problem? Trevor wanted to ask out loud, but didn’t. Are you trying to prove a point? Show you’re the alpha rider? What?
Finally, Trevor responded to Lewis’ attack, Harlan and Everet on his wheel. Lewis had started it, but they had superior numbers. There was no way this ill-considered solo breakaway was going to work.
They reeled Lewis in, and then the surly loner dropped back and—often—out of sight.
This day—this day, which should have been perfect—sucked. The only good moment of the day, in fact, had been watching Harlan, who was doing his absolute best to hang with Trevor and Everet, turf it on the loose, rocky descent toward the Colorado River.
— — —
Lewis crossed Highway 128 onto the desert doubletrack, got into the flow of the ride, and felt clear and strong. Not hungry. Not thirsty. Not tired. Not—in spite of the rising temperature—hot. Lewis didn’t feel anything.
To achieve this state: this was why Lewis rode. He stood and rowed his bike up a short, steep climb. Sat and got low for a short rocky descent. Climbs, descents, flat: Lewis loved it all.
Low. Light. Lean the bike, stay upright. Lewis was tempted to rest a finger on the brake levers, but didn’t, even as he he dived into the left-turning blind, banked downhill corner.
Something in the trail. Big.
With no time to ride around it—a rock wall on the left and exposure on the right there was nowhere to go anyway—Lewis grabbed two big handfuls of brake.
People like to talk about time slowing down and everything happening in slow motion when you crash, but that is not what usually happens. You’re riding and then you’re sliding, with very little time to think in between.
Everet. Not moving. That’s all Lewis had time to think as he went over his handlebars, and then he was taking the impact on his left hand.
Amazingly, he did not fly down the steep, exposed embankment. He didn’t break his collarbone. He didn’t even break his wrist.
He was scraped bloody, and that wrist was probably sprained, but Lewis wasn’t aware of any of these minor injuries in the moments after he crashed. He jumped up, the adrenaline hitting him hard and fast.
“What happened?” Lewis yelled.
Everet didn’t say anything, but someone did.
“I think he’s dead.”
I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the rest of the story once (if) you read it.
There are a few moments that, as they happen, you realize will always stick with you, for the rest of your life. No matter what.
I had one of those moments at the finish line of the True Grit Epic a couple of weeks ago. It was a conversation, held with a complete stranger — well, at least he was a stranger to me; he seemed to know who I am (this happens pretty often and I rarely know when it’s someone who recognizes me from the blog and we haven’t met, or someone who I ought to remember, and don’t because the part of my brain that ought to remember names and faces is completely missing).
He said, and I quote, “Hey Fatty, you were faster last year. How come you were so slow today?”
To which I replied, “Was I faster last year?” It wasn’t a rhetorical question. I just genuinely didn’t know; I hadn’t looked up my 2015 time before the 2016 race.
“Yeah, most people are finishing faster today than last year,” he affirmed. “The weather and course are great, but you’re slow.”
This got me to thinking. In fact, I thought two things:
First, it occurred to me that I didn’t much care for being told at the finish line of a race that I hadn’t done very well. I furthermore didn’t much care for being asked for an explanation of my subpar performance. (I’m sure that’s just me, though; most people are happy to have strangers demand an explanation for why they suck.)
Second, I realized it was probable that other people might have similar questions (though probably asked in less painful circumstances): why didn’t I race harder? Why wasn’t I faster?
To my great relief, I had no trouble formulating a cogent, perfectly reasonable, and persuasive explanation, which had the side benefit of also being true.
“I am slower,” I say to myself, “because my heart and head and legs and lungs are all part of one system. You can only train your hardest and race your fastest when you can apply not just your mind and your body to the effort, but your heart — your will, your passion — to it as well. What I need from the bike, right now, is a counterpoint to the intensity I am experiencing in the rest of my life. Right now, I need balance — peace — more than I need speed.”
It’s an honest self-assessment. Mature and self-aware. In truth, I should be proud of being able to see my needs and situation for what they are.
But the reality is, I hate it. Furthermore, I reject it.
Yeah, I’m stressed right now. Yeah, tired. Yeah, concerned about the future. Yeah, sick (haven’t talked about that…but I’ve been sick a lot lately).
All these things are real, and it would be foolish for me to not account for these things and adapt.
But I also know this: I have signed up for races. Races I care about. And I know that at six in the morning on August thirteenth, as I stand in the corral for the second-fastest group of racers in the Leadville 100 — a spot I earned last year with the fastest race in my life — I am not going to be thinking to myself, “Well, I’m grateful for the peace I’ve experienced on the bike in the past few months.”
I’ll either be thinking, “I am going to take all the fitness I’ve earned and I am going to be fast and strong and smart and tough today, and my work is going to pay off.”
…Or I will be thinking, “Why didn’t I work harder? Why did I think it would be OK for me to not train for this race? What am I in for now?”
I’ve thought each of those thoughts in that starting corral before. I know which I prefer.
Flip the Script
So my life is not stable right now. I’m doing two very difficult things at once: looking for work and writing a book about Susan’s fight with cancer.
Obviously, my training is going to have to adapt.
My mistake was in assuming that it would have to get shoved aside, get deprioritized, become a time for reflection and decompression, rather than a time for me to attack each ride with the joy and intensity I’ve been so proud of for the past five years.
I don’t want to let that go. I refuse to let that go. Here’s my new premise:
Instead of convincing myself why my situation requires me to de-prioritize things I love, I need to revise how I live in such a way that I can make the things I care about possible, in a new way.
Luckily, I already have the tools I need to make this happen. As anyone who follows me on Strava knows, I have become a huge fan of and believer in the structured training plan that is part of TrainerRoad. So far, I’ve thought of it as mostly a way to build early-season fitness and make winter trainer work more productive.
Now I’m going to use it as a way to trick my body and brain into being more fit and productive.
Which is to say, I’m going to go do the “Mid Volume” TrainerRoad workout plan each morning, after I send the various adults and kids to their various workplaces and schools, but before I begin the writing for the day.
I’m going to rely on the “no excuses” nature of the TrainerRoad workout, combined with the “no easy way out” nature of the Wahoo Kickr, to force some intensity out of me.
And — and this is the good part — I’m planning on this effort to get my mind working, so I don’t sit down at the computer groggy and grumpy. When I start writing, my body will be happy to stay put, my brain will be awake.
But here’s the real genius: I’ll then do a second ride when The Hammer gets home from work, going out with her. This will be our time together, and can be that time for balance and recharging that I do in fact believe I need.
In other words, I’m not denying the value of the bike for getting some mental balance. I’ve just decided that I’m also not going to deny the value of using it to work out some physical aggression.
I’m going to have it both ways. (I talk more about this on this week’s Paceline Podcast — also available on iTunes)
So here’s what a typical day is going to look like for me:
5:30: Up and prepare breakfast and lunch for The Hammer
6:30: Hammer off to work, answer email, write notes for blog
7:00: Listen to audiobook with the twins (currently A Wizard of Earthsea)
8:30: Shower, dress, read news
9:00: Write book
12:00: Break for lunch, read email, read news, make calls
1:00: Job hunting
5:00: Done working for the day, off to ride with The Hammer
It’s a good plan. I plan to stick to it. And I would like your help.
Back to My Roots
Here’s where I’m asking you to help me, in a few ways: Help me stay accountable. Help me stay positive. Help me stay inspired.
I have something specific in mind for each of these things.
For the accountability bit, I’m going to go back to the roots of this blog: I’m going to begin reporting on my progress with each post. But where I used to report just on my weight, there are now three things I’m going to report with each post:
- Weight: I’m above what my weight should be. Starting Monday I’m going to report my weight each post and my progress toward my goal.
- Workout: I’m going to link to my most recent TrainerRoad workout and any other ride I’ve done, with notes on how they went — whether I phoned it in, felt strong, or anything else.
- Fight Like Susan Progress: During the next few months, count on hearing something in each post about how I’m doing on writing this book. Sometimes it’ll be an excerpt, sometimes it’ll be about something I’m struggling with, sometimes it’ll be…well, I don’t know, yet. But I’m committing to you: I will keep you posted. You will know how this book is progressing, as I write it.
Now, for your part — I’m asking for you to keep me accountable and to give me your support. I want you to check my weight and workouts, and to give me feedback on my progress. And on the book, let me know what you think.
Further, as you already know, I’m asking you to literally support me: to pre-order this book and the associated gear. (And I really appreciate those of you who have already done so.) Out of all the books I’ve written (and other ones I might write in the future), this is the one that matters. So, in advance: thank you.
Moving Forward Together
Some things have to be compromised, in certain situations. But I’m deciding today that this shouldn’t be my default tactic. Sometimes, it’s possible to do more than you thought you could.
That’s growing. And that’s what I aim to do.
I’m going to write my best work. I’m going to find a great job. And I’m going to be stronger than I’ve ever been, by training smarter than I ever have.
And now, I have one final ask: Join me. Find something you’re settling for, ask yourself whether that’s the best strategy for your life, or just one that seems convenient. If it’s convenient, maybe look at a different approach — a way you can make your life genuinely better.
Then say what it is. Here or somewhere else. And then track it (here or somewhere else).
Let’s adapt. Let’s grow.
Pre-Order Fight Like Susan
Combining the best posts from FatCyclist.com about Susan’s fight with a newly-written narrative of Susan and her family before and during her fight, Fight Like Susan will be an honest and thoughtful telling of Susan’s and Elden’s life together.
This fight defined, inspired, and changed me and what matters to me, and it might do the same for you.
You can order any of several different versions of this book:
- Paperback: $19.95
- Autographed Paperback: $22.95
- Kindle Version: $12.95
- Autographed Paperback + Kindle Version: $24.95
Fight Like Susan Relaxed-Fit Short-Sleeve Jersey
This is a comfortable, Italian-made, relaxed-fit jersey (see the Men’s and Women’s jersey sizing charts for sizing info). And it looks amazing:
It’s incredibly well-made by DNA Cycling; you’re going to want to wear this full-zip jersey Spring through Autumn.
- Fabric: Hydro Fit
- Respire Moisture Management
- Ergo Stretch Performance
- Front Comfort Banding
- Relaxed Fit
- Full Hidden Zip
- 3 Full Back Pockets
- Silicon Grippers for Men’s Jersey (ladies jersey does not include silicon gripper)
- Men’s and Ladies Cuts Available
- Audio Port
I’m pricing these at $74.95, which means they’re not just a good jersey, they’re also a really good deal. Click here to pre-order.
Fight Like Susan Bib Shorts
These bibs are made in Italy, they fit beautifully, and they feel like they cost about three times as much as they do. And let’s cap this whole thing off with this: both men’s and women’s sizing.
- Fabric: Performance Lycra / Shield
- 4 cm Elastic Compression Technology
- Smart Panel Design
- Suspension Braces
- Radio Pocket
These will cost $99.95, which is a crazy-good deal for excellent bib shorts. Click here to pre-order.
Fight Like Susan Cycling Socks
Show the world how you fight and what team you’re on. These socks have a double welt top for comfort and fit, a smooth toe seam, and flat-knit construction for an ultra-lightweight fit.
They’re just $12.95; click here to pre-order.
Fight Like Susan T-Shirt
I have a rule regarding selling t-shirts, which is to say: I won’t sell them if I don’t want to wear them. This is a good shirt, comfortable and just the right weight. 100% cotton. And it’s a good price at $19.95.
It comes in men’s and women’s sizing. Click here to order.
Fight Like Susan Hoodie
This is a 100% cotton, outrageously comfortable hoodie. Just the right weight, just the right fit. Show the world how you fight and what team you’re on.
This comes in Unisex sizing and is a bargain at $44.95. Click here to order.
Fight Like Susan Purist Hydroflo Bottle
I keep looking for a bottle I like better than this one. I do. But I’ve never found one. Not even close.
This is just the best water bottle there is, and this is a really awesome design for it. At a good price, too: just $12.95. That’s cheaper than you’ll get it for most places. Click here to order.
If you have questions about anything here, please ask in the comments; I’ll try to answer inline. For questions that crop up frequently, I’ll add them to this list.
- When will you get your gear? I’m going to send everything all at once, which means after I write and publish this book. Now, since this will in fact be the fourth book I’ve self-published, I’m pretty confident in my ability to hit my projected dates. So, unless things change drastically for me, you’ll have the book and gear in August.
- What if Fatty suddenly finds himself super busy? It’s possible I’ll get a new job before finishing this book, in which case I’ll ask you to be patient as I shift more toward writing during the weekends. I’m committed to finishing it no matter what, however.
- What are the shipping costs? Shipping to the US and Canada is free. Shipping elsewhere costs $25, no matter what. (This is a ridiculous amount to spend if you’re just going to get a book, but not at all bad if you order a jersey and shorts as well).
- Why no bundles? I considered doing bundles — buy one of everything, get it all for less — but then realized: it defeated the purpose of what I’m doing here: trying to make some money while I write. I’ve put the prices on each of these items so I have a little bit of profit. If I do bundles, my volume might go up…but the amount of money I make would go down.
- How long will this pre-order go on? The pre-order will go to the last day of April.
- Why aren’t you using a crowdfunding site like Kickstarter or FundRazr? I looked into these and was startled at how much money they keep for themselves — I’d be losing around 10% of each sale to the hosting site. That’s a reasonable cost of finding people to support you…but I already have an audience. You people know me. So I’m keeping this right here.
- How much money do I need? Well, that depends on how long it is ’til I have full-time work again. I can say that thanks to folks buying my 2015 gear, I was able to get rid of that debt, so I am OK through April. I’m hoping this will pre-order will set me up with enough money to cover my expenses (and cost of publishing and manufacturing) through June.
I’ve started work on writing Fight Like Susan, and have been making a lot of decisions: what will go in the book, and what won’t. How far back in time will I reach, and where is its finish line.
I’m happy to say that so far, the answers to these questions have been pretty clear to me. My vision for this book is very clear, maybe because I have been thinking about it for close to a decade.
It will be Susan’s and my story, and it will incorporate much of my best writing from this blog during her fight. This means that about half of the writing exists, and I’ll be writing the other half.
A story, interspersed with essays.
As I go back and read what I wrote during Susan’s fight, I’m struck by how my time for riding was so clearly a pressure release valve. I remember how my friends noted that when I rode with them, I would attack. Riding angry.
When I rode alone, I’d attack anyway. Or sometimes break down.
Then I’d come home and could be the stable presence again. For my kids. For my wife.
This time was the defining test of my life. I know, that sounds hyperbolic, but I think it’s true: it fixed the “me at my best” in my mind, and it is who I continue to try to be.
But without the balance the bike provided me — a time and a way to empty out all the frustration and rage and sense of unfairness I felt — I don’t know if I could have been the person I’m so glad I managed to be.
Now I’m dealing with some new stuff. This stuff is maybe more ordinary, less life-and-death; it’s just looking for work. But as I’m pouring myself into this task and into the work of writing a very emotional book, I find myself…mentally and emotionally cooked. Exhausted.
And once again, the bike is there to give me balance. But this time in a different way. I find that I look forward to my time on the bike not as an outlet for excess energy and emotion, but as a time to recharge, to relax.
I’m not riding with the intensity I’ve felt in recent years, not even when I race. After I finished the True Grit Epic a couple weekends ago, I was incredibly happy for how fast The Hammer and Swimmer had gone…and felt like I had raced a good race too, in spite of the fact that I had gone slower than the previous year.
Why? Because I had enjoyed myself, and had ridden and talked with other guys who were also enjoying themselves. I had gotten a much-needed break from the things that were weighing me down.
I’ve been riding, as often as I can, for at least twenty years now. And once in a while, this simple act can still surprise me with how much it affects me and means to me.
Somehow, no matter what I’m going through, the bike gives me balance.
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