Why Am I Doing This Again?
Why the hell did I sign up for this thing again? Riding 545 miles from SF to LA seemed like a lot more fun when the start date was 5 months away instead of 2 weeks away. I now ask myself why I signed up in the first place again almost every, single, day.
It’s the kind of impending doom dread where I believe I don’t have time to train, race, or buy new socks and a tent mat, and I don’t feel prepared physically for it. It is a fairly consistent source of the deadly combinations of guilt and anxiety which when mixed together form a highly potent form of PANIC.
While I wouldn’t say I am waking up in a panicked sweat every morning, I would say it’s more like a feeling of numb pressure rooted in my growing denial of reality that I will be riding for six days in a row for a lot more miles than I’m used to riding, and sleeping outside in a tent every night.
When I’m on my bike — in the first ten miles, I remember why I like to ride. My bicycle has wings. It cheers me up. It is an escape. It transports me into nature. And on the last ten miles, I remember how stupid this idea is all over again when my bicycle grows spikes. It hurts my legs. It makes me ache. And I hate everyone around me and want to quit.
The emotional contradictions of the bicycle are what contribute to my love hate relationship with the machine. There are some days when I can’t wait to ride — literally look forward to waking up to riding. And there are other days when I want to stick it in the corner so I can’t even see it and it doesn’t look back at me.
I have found, by way of “the rules” of riding — when you are on the bike in a planned “group training ride” you must be alone. You will ride single file or by yourself. At least those are the rules when you start. But soon, at the stop lights, you chat.
That’s where I got to know Jonathan and Ricardo. Jonathan sings in gay men’s chorus, architects theme parks, and is moving to China! Pretty fascinating guy. Ricardo rides faster than me. So fast, that well — we didn’t really get to know each other that well on this round.
And when you crank on the hills, you whine backwards to some poor listener who would pass you if they physically could just to stop your damn whining. So they can either drop back slowly with the risk of encountering you again — or endure you because they are banned (just like you are) from wearing headphones.
Once you’re in a quiet area, you can transgress within the boundaries of safety and have a closer conversation. While I shouldn’t probably write that — It’s a good thing I did talk to someone within hearing shot- or I would have gotten completely lost on my last group ride.
My fellow rider and I were peddling along in the rain and or ride map got soaked and confusing. The confusing map had nothing to do with the rain though — these things are worse than trying to understand morse code without the translation key. So we through out the map and we used GPS to get us where we needed to go. A bagel shop.
The same day as I did the very rule oriented (I get why there are rules, it’s fine) group ride — I recently joined up with a Greek bike gang and they rode in pods. It’s not really a gang, but they were all Greek, so I don’t really know if a distinction is necessary.
It was pretty unruly. Nobody had bike gear, food, or water. There was quite a lot of talking and joking and laughing and overall — it was about as social as riding gets. It felt pretty different and I guess I liked it more, until my colleague Constantinos started eating my food.
It reminded me of the midnight riders. I rode with them a few times years ago. They rode fast and hard at night (I think they may have actually met up at 11pm). It was almost like an urban road sprint, and they called out to each other from street to street.
But since training never stops (ever) my last ride was a loner ride in Toronto. I rented a bike that started at an old brick factory and rode to Lake Ontario. I know that sounds ambitious — but it was only about 10 miles there and back.
I’m coming off a sprained ankle and trying to make sure I’m not rusty by the time this 545 mile thing starts happening, so this was 20 miles of damage control training. It was gorgeous and amazing, and on this day — my bicycle grew back its wings. Why am I not doing this every single day?!?
Either way — I think what I’m trying to say here is that — you are on this ride too. If you’ve read one of my posts, you’re feeling the joy. You’re feeling the pain. You’re getting lost in my random training stories, and finding your place again when I address you directly.
You may even be just as tired of hearing me whine about training and wishing you had your headphones on too. Trust me — we’ll both be glad when all of this is over. Unless of course, we fall in love with riding all over again. But more importantly — we’re doing something unselfish together.
We’re riding for a reason, which frankly is perhaps the only thing that could get me to love my bicycle enough to spend six days on it. Am I nervous? Yeah. Everyone keeps saying it will be fun and fine, and I’m sure it will. And I promise to report to you how much I’ve changed, grown, learned, and or withered into a ball of lactic acid and sweat in my freezing cold tent at night.
In case you’ve noticed my change from my “excited” tone since I started writing about this journey — you would be correct. I am terrified again. But my fear and pain isn’t really comparable to the pain and fear of those suffering from HIV / AIDS every day. While many have overcome so much to live positive healthy lifestyles, many have not, and there is still the financial burden, the emotional burden, the social burden, to overcome every day on their daily ride.
So let’s ride together. And let’s talk about it. And then — let’s celebrate when we pass this finish line together. I promise, it’s going to be worth it. If you have supported my ride along the way THANK YOU. If you would like to pitch in, now is YOUR CHANCE! Click here to help me get to the finish line.