The Girl With The Cowbell Tattoo: Bike Philosophers
Last week, I went out on a ride after work with a good friend of mine (who also happens to be the manager for my team, Rockstar Games/Signature Cycles). We were just riding through an area that I had ridden in the past, and it was darn hilly. At one point, I caught myself wondering when the hills were going to end. Actually, I didn’t so much wonder as say it out loud, whining to Blake.
Suddenly, as we pedaled away, I realized that we were actually going in a direction completely opposite of the way I had thought we were going … we were getting closer and closer to the cars with every pedal stroke! “Wow,” I said, “I just totally switched perspectives.”
I meant that my sense of direction had been switched, and Blake just laughed and said, “good,” but later, I realized that I had, in fact, switched more than my sense of direction. When I realized where we were and that the end was in sight, my perspective on the ride shifted from “ouch” to “fun,” despite not changing the terrain. We were still going uphill, just uphill in an area I knew. And while it doesn’t sound great that nearing the end of the ride (well, about 20 minutes from the end, anyway) made me happy, it told me a lot about myself as a rider, and as a person. I was happy because once I knew how far the car was, I had a goal in mind. Before that, when I didn’t know how much longer the ride would be, my body and my brain were in panic mode, getting upset that I didn’t have a plan. Even if I had realized the cars were an hour away, I would have felt better because I could have mentally started checking off miles and minutes.
So I’m a planner. I like ticking off the miles, knowing where the turnaround point is. The hardest part in a crit for me is the part before they start hanging lap cards. I absolutely love having a coach give me a training plan that extends into September. It’s who I am: leisurely rides with no planned time or turnaround drive me insane, no matter how good the company is. And maybe that’s why I like bike racing: it’s unpredictable at best, but at least there’s a defined start and finish.
While I thought about that and what it means to me as a cyclist, I started to realize that when I think about my life philosophies, I ultimately think of them in terms of the bike. Whether it’s my goal setting or just my attitude regarding dropping out of races, my cycling parallels my philosophy on life. And looking back at some of my columns, I realize that I have become a “bike philosopher,” where my columns all have a moral that can be applied on or off the bike. It’s funny, simply because when I wrote them, I had no intention of making philosophical claims. They just seemed to go with the territory. Some of our other writers like Paul Warloski and Lee Waldman do a great blend of writing about their cycling and how it applies to their lives on the whole. I admired that when I first started this column, so I guess it’s beginning to rub off on me!
But on to cyclocross, which has been on my brain since … well, since I got home from Nationals last year. But the other day I looked at my calendar and realized that it was almost August and it hit me: there’s less than a month to go before the season actually starts. I could barely contain my excitement, since riding the towpath alone isn’t quite as fun as Wednesday night cyclocross practice with my old team. In fact, this weekend I’ll be splitting my attention between a road race on Saturday and a cyclocross clinic at Rutgers on Sunday.
The rides are getting dirtier by the day, I’m riding in the rain when we have it, and I’m going harder than ever. When I was doing my recovery ride last night, I realized that my pace, which had me breathing comfortably through my nose, was the pace that was killing me to hold just a month ago. And as it turns out, remounting onto what might be the hardest saddle on the planet is actually not as scary as it seemed! Of course, I learned that by running like a maniac in the strip of grass by my apartment complex, going back and forth, on and off the bike, for 20 minutes. I figure since I’m moving in September anyway, now is the time to develop the reputation of the crazy person in the complex.
As the online editor here, I also have a lot to think about work-wise as the season approaches. We have a lot going on at Cyclocross Magazine as we scramble to get ready for September. In some ways, it feels like we’re going to war next month, and we’re trying to get all of our supplies and armaments in place before we go. There’s a feeling of “waiting” in the air as we start to anticipate the photos and race results that will come pouring in. It’s exciting, and I’m hoping that this season will be better than ever. If you want to get your cyclocross fix pre-season, which we highly recommend, you might want to check out our renovated subscription page, since we’ve added a ton of new options. One of these options is the recently updated digital subscription section, now featuring issues 8 through 12.
On one last note, some of you might remember my friend Don from my Race Face column back in June. Well, thanks to some bullying on my part, Don gave in and came aboard to write a great article about how cyclocross can actually benefit you as you age, helping prevent both problems with falling as well as cognition and memory loss. It’s a great read, and I’m hoping I can convince Don to write more for us.
That’s all I’ve got for today: I’ve got sprints to get done! (And while I’m doing them, you can bet I won’t be thinking about deep, philosophical matters. More focusing on staying upright and conscious. Go hard or go home.)
So tell me: what’s your bike/life philosophy?
If you want to read more about my training, racing and editing exploits, you can find the painfully full version of events here: Molly’s CX Adventures.
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