It seems really strange to me what happens to your mind on a long solo ride. My mind always wanders but typically comes back to one of two things. I can get a song stuck in my head, usually one I don't like and don't know all the words to such as Elvis Presley's Teddy Bear, (where the hell did that come from). However, more frequently, I hear Phil Leggit and Paul Sherwen providing ride commentary.
Phil and Paul are the infamous announcers on Versus that provide most of the commentary on cycling in America. The are both British and I find them quite funny (and extremely knowledgable). They both have their quirks and catch phrases and on rides when I alone with own thoughts it's these catch phrases that get things going. Now don't get me wrong. In my mind I am not winning a Tour de France stage. It's not like when you are in the car singing to the radio and pretending you're a rock star. Not at all! They are actually commenting on my current ride performance. Here are some samples.
If I am on a long solo ride, they will talk about me as if I am in a breakaway.
Phil - "I can't believe this lad has stayed in front this long Paul. He's usually back in the bunch by now."
Paul - "Well, you're right about that Phil. But today he's seems to have found that little something extra and he will keep up this infernal tempo for as long as he can. However I am afraid that tomorrow he will be paying for these efforts."
When I am climbing well, it sounds completely different.
Phil - "I dare say our boy is climbing pretty well today Paul."
Paul - "Yes he is Phil. You know, throughout his career he has proven to be a decent climber. On these lower slopes he will get the bit between his teeth and give 110%. But I am afraid when the road pitches to gradients of more then 10% he just doesn't quite have the power of the pure mountain climbers. Because after all, those boys are something special."
Phil - "Well he seems to be at least enjoying this moment in the sun so let's give him that."
But the one the started it all was one day when I cracked and was dropped on a ride.
Phil - "Our boy has cracked! He's done!"
Paul - "He has completely and utterly cracked! And it's at times like this you wander how much pain you can put your body through. Because when the lights go out in the engine room, you are left to ride in your own personal purgatory. But he is a good rider so what he must do now is to not panic. He needs to find his tempo and try and limit his losses. And if he does that he'll live to fight another day."
That last line is becoming somewhat of a philosophy of life for me. When days get hard for what ever reason I know I always have Paul reminding me to limit my losses and live to fight another day.