Honesty and Self-Improvement

On Thursday two weeks ago, my climbing partner and I competed in the 12 hour competition at Horseshoe Hell.

What does this have to do with a biking blog? Does it explain my time off the bike? It would be easy to say that was the reason, but it wouldn’t be true. So, let’s start this randonneuring thing (again) by being honest. Seems smart, yeah?

Honestly, I have figured out that I try to make radical life changes after becoming absolutely fed up with myself that it drives me to action. I get fed up with not being able to travel the distances that I want to travel. I want to get up in those mountains and grind away for hours along. I want to transcend myself, transcend my weaknesses. Time after time, I planned. Time after time, training began in earnest, only for my efforts to come to nothing after I run out of energy within a couple of weeks. Distance becomes intimidating. Difficulty becomes a sign of weakness. Then weakness becomes proof of lack of ability.

Oh yeah! Rock climbing… So, rock climbing has exposed my weaknesses. My true weaknesses are all mental: fear of failure, an unhealthy relationship with difficulty and pain, and most painful to admit, lack of belief in ability. But in order to uncover all of those, I first had to become comfortable with admitting these weaknesses to myself in a healthy way. Through rock climbing, I’ve learned quite a bit about being honest with myself about personal limitations and testing those limitations. As an added bonus, I have upper body strength and core strength now! The challenge will be taking what I learned from the rock and applying it to the road.

Difficulty and challenge will come, as they very well should. With the right attitude towards them, they can be transformed into gains both on the bike and in the head. Above all else, there’s one things I must keep in mind above all else:

Perfection is an unattainable goal, but true progress is always within reach. All is required is honest effort.

Chugging along, but not at full steam.

I’ll be honest. I still have to wrestle with myself in order to go out and ride.

What is this elusive thing called motivation?

Well, I did go out and ride this week. Admittedly, not as much as I should have, but I did the two most important rides.

I did a hilly 48 miles on Wednesday and I gotta say, I surprised myself with how strong I am still. Given that I have not been riding as consistently as I have in the past, I am still able to climb strong after some 30-40 miles of riding. The hill out of Atkins on AR 363 is just long enough to where I have to concentrate on pacing and my mental game, but short enough to where it doesn’t take forever. I did it in 20ish minutes. On my next rides, I’ll concentrate on getting faster here.

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In other riding news, speed work might be my new favorite! Here in Russellville, there’s a nice, long, flat stretch of road with no driveways on it. Perfect for speed drills! When its all said and done, I ride a half mile stretch as steady and as fast as I can 5 times or more. (The repetitions increase every week. Currently at 6x.) During my speed work this week, my bike odometer rolled over 2000 miles! Not bad for only having the bike since September 2013.

This weekend, I’ll be riding my first 100k since this past winter. It could very well be a challenge, since the last few miles of this 48 miler were. However, the first permanent of mine that I have chosen to ride is not very hilly and I’ve done it before, so it could be easier than expected. We’ll see what happens on Saturday!

Hills in the Distance

Strung out along the backroads of the Ozark Mountains are the most beautiful parts of Arkansas. The only way to get to the good stuff is through miles of climbs. Luckily, I find it oddly satisfying to climb an 8% grade for 3 miles. The struggle of grinding away at a hill is all worth it once you reach the top. I just don’t get that same feeling of accomplishment after fighting the wind or riding fast and well. Nothing can compare to bombing down the side of a mountain at 40 miles an hour. Even better, doing it well. Reading the lines, leaning into the curves, braking just enough to keep control. It’s a balance between bravado and finesse.

But in order to get out to the good stuff and really enjoy it, I gotta ride. It’s the only way to get strong enough to go the distances long enough to get to the hills. Going out and riding can only get me so far. I need a way to motivate myself, a plan, and a goal.

My goal for the next year is to ride a 200k permanent and a 100k permanent populaire every month for the next year.

Back in the Saddle

Ages ago (December 2013), I rode my first brevet with the Lone Star Randonneurs: the Rio Vista Rumble 200k. Without a doubt, it was one of the hardest, most rewarding, and most memorable things I had ever done.

Most memorable, you say?

Why yes! Fighting the wind on a wet, grey, 40 degree day for ten hours and fifteen minutes is hard to forget. But I’m not complaining! Well… I’m not complaining now, at least. I’m coming back for more!

So, I gotta start riding more consistently. A long ride, a fast ride, and a sprint work ride. I gotta do it if I’m gonna ride where I really wanna. Gotta get out and roam around in my beloved Ozark Mountains!