Saturday, April 05, 2008

Agony and Ecstasy

That picture was taken in late 1993 - my last season of competitive racing. I couldn't bring myself to post a picture of me in cycling clothes today. There is nothing more pathetic than a 34-year-old out of shape cyclist who is now 50 pounds over his ideal racing weight!

However - today I rode the 30 mile Tour of Dallas. I wasn't going to, but our friends Tommy and Amanda talked me into it, and Holly said, "I'm tired of you talking about riding - do it!" I have not been on a bike in over a year. There were cobwebs between my spokes when I loaded my bike this morning! BUT - once I got on that bike something changed. I felt good on my trusty Cannondale, like it was an extension of my body. So after about 20 miles of riding I wanted to see if I've still got it after all these years. With a flick of my wrist I downshifted my Shimano "Flightdeck" lever. Click, click, click - the rear derailler moved the chain into high gear. I clenched the down grips on the handlebars and put my head into a aerodynamic tuck. I wanted to ride as hard and as fast as I could for as long as I could. I FLEW down Turtle Creek Blvd - past a forest green Aston Martin Vanquish! After about 2 miles my heart was tearing out of my chest at 180 beats per minute, lactic acid was pouring into my muscles, every breath was a last gasp for life, every joint in my body screamed to stop, but my brain overruled every impulse to make the excruciating pain go away. I forced my legs, acting like giant pistons, to press on - 30 mph, 35 mph - I needed more speed!!! I emptied the last ounce of energy in me, trying to snap my carbon fiber crank from the herculean effort - 36 mph, 37 mph, 38 mph!!! There is no way to describe the exhilaration of knowing that by the sheer will of your mind and the power of your own body you can make 18 pounds of aluminum alloy and carbon fiber go that fast! How can so much pain and agony be so pleasurable and exciting???


Charles North said...

Okay - today my back and rear really hurt, so I'd like to retract that nonsense about pain being pleasurable. OWWW!

Raleen's Kity said...
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Raleen's Kity said...
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Bill Jordan said...

Oh, there is something a whole lot more pathetic than a 34-year-old who's 50 pounds overweight. It's a 54-year-old who's 75 pounds overweight.

I could have never kept up with you, but I wish I'd know about the ride. It was a perfect weekend for being on a bike.

Kerrie said...

How pathetic is a 43 year old trying to jog and in need of hip replacements because she is too stubborn to stop?

Maybe if I had aluminum alloy joints I could go that fast too, then again maybe I should just take up biking:)

The pain is bad but the adrenaline rush from the effort is definitely worth it!

A.H. Jordan said...

Charles, I've got one word for you. Golf! It's a great sport, rarely produces any lactic acid and some of you South Africans are really good at it, ie., Msrs. Player, Els and Goosen.

I've never been one to fight failure. I learned my lesson when I was talked into quaterbacking the law school intramural football team against the 18-21 y/o undergrads after not having darkened the door of a gym nor thrown a pass in six years.

At some point I began to look forward to being sacked so that I had a plausible excuse to lay there on the ground a suck wind for a few minutes.

I'm sure a religious refusal to exercise is not a good long term game plan, but I'm hoping what I spend on the cardiologist in a few years will be saved in Ben Gay, ice packs and Alieve.