Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cycling Therapy

The first 3 months of 2010 seems to be a complete blur.  This is especially true about work.  Work has been solid crazy so far this year and that’s resulted in a fair amount of stress to deal with.  Usually, I let the bike take care of that but the weather seems to be taking work’s side this year so that’s been a challenge as well. 

Just like all of you, my work like can be quite challenging.  It’s not a time thing.  I rarely work more then 45 hours or so a week, which is a far cry from people working 60 or more.  I don’t have a commute to speak of.  I am less then 5 miles from the office and even with my morning cappuccino stop it only takes about 15 minutes to get there.  I would actually ride there except I have to wear the whole “coat and tie kit” and I frequently have meetings around town. 

It’s really more about the pressure and intensity, which is partly the result of  the current economic situation.  My job is much more taxing mentally then physically so I frequently have that “brain dead” feeling at the end of the day.  Even with all that said, I do recognize that my issues are small compared to many others across this nation and I remain grateful for that.

I have 3 very successful ways of coping with the daily grind and refreshing my mind.  I have my wonderful wife, a great (and expanding) circle of friends, and cycling.  The first 2 are as strong as ever, however the cycling seems to be a little off.  Last night, it all started to come around.

Last night was the first time this year I managed to ride, on the road, after work.   This is where my short commute really helps out.  I left the office at 6:02 and rolled out of the driveway at 6:30.  Not too bad!  It wasn’t going to dark until 7:40ish and it was a beautiful 71 degrees with just a bit of a wind.  The perfect spring evening to ride.

The ride itself was fine.  I did some hill work in Fountain Grove that allowed me to really work hard.  I also came screaming down a few descents at 40+ mph.  (By the way, don’t you just love riding by one of those police speed monitoring contraptions and noticing that you’re speeding?)  In the end, it was only a 60-minute ride but at least that was 6o minutes I didn’t have to spend on the trainer.  But it wasn’t the workout that mattered.

No, the real benefit last night was mental.  I was enjoying being on the bike with the blooms and bouquets of spring all around.  Birds were singing, creeks were running, and there was this shared feeling of happiness to be alive.  That’s the feeling I can’t replicate when I am riding the trainer in the garage.  I can mimic the physical nature of the ride but not the psychological (or dare I say, metaphysical) part.

I felt my mind begin to free up immediately.  I changed to hill work from my original plan of just cruising around town.  As I put in big efforts on the climbs, I thought of my many friends racing at the first Tuesday Night Twilights of the year and I was thankful they had such a beautiful night for racing.  As I bombed back down the hill I thought of . . . well, nothing really because when you’re traveling at 44 mph you’d better be focused on staying upright.   I thought of my Team Revolution mates learning new skills from our team director and hoping one night this year I can join them.  By the time I got home I was feeling exhilarated. 

Is there a moral to this story?  Perhaps not.   It’s more of an important reminder that we all need some form of escape.  I know the next time I’m feeling stressed I will be reaching for the bike and not the aspirin. 


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