It started in 1992. It was one of those milestone birthdays that we are suppose to dread. As it turns out I have since figured out every birthday is a milestone, none of them should be dreaded. Celebrated – absolutely. Dreaded – no.
In 1992, I signed up for a week long, 500-mile bicycle ride. To my surprise, I got in. That was a good thing excepted for a few items like I didn’t have a bike and I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was 15 years old. But, those were minor obstacles that could be overcome.
Since 1992, I have gone on at least one, week long, long distance bike ride a year, with the exception of one year. These rides are filled with miles and miles of great bike rides and meeting some wonderful people. However, it all comes at cost. A few years back I discovered the stages you must go through. The duration of each stage may vary but you have to go through all them. Here is the abbreviated version.
Stage One: Apply for the ride. Some you need to raise vast amounts of money for, others you have to be selected, some you can just pay to get in. For 2005, I applied for one where you have to be selected. I was selected.
Stage Two: Excitement. This last somewhere between 24 and 48 hours. You’re pretty darn happy. You might even talk a little smack with others bike riders you know. It’s a good time.
Stage Three: Where did I leave the bike? Having completed the ride last year you get back and well, you might go for short ride here or there but there is no purpose, there is no reason. You quit riding. You hang up the bike until next year. In this stage you start wondering things like are the tires still good, where in the %^#%^ is my helmet, do the shoes still fit?
Stage Four: Wonder. My thighs feel a little mushy, look at that stomach, I wonder if it was like that last year?
Stage Five: Fear. What did I get myself into? There is no way I can do this? What am I trying to prove? Too whom do I need to prove it? Why? Why? Why?
Stage Six: Let’s go. Time to start training. You tell yourself it’s only a 500-mile bike ride any body can do it, as you acknowledge you are almost completely around the block; you’ll stop and catch your breath then.
Stage Seven: Priority. Training becomes a priority. You know if it doesn’t you will die on the bike ride. You can hear them talking at your funeral, “He was doing something he loved.” Yeah, what? Sweating my butt off trying to get to the top of a stupid mountain while gasping for air?
Stage Eight: Confidence. You have racked up several hundred training miles and you feel strong. Muscle in your legs are coming back. Your confidence level is starting to increase. You start to believe you can make it.
Stage Nine: Anxiety. What did I get myself into? What makes me think this is going to be fun? What else could I have done with that money? All head games you play with yourself. This is a tough stage to get through.
Stage Ten: The ride. You are there for the week riding between 60 and 100 miles a days. You are doing it and having a great time. You are really feeling sorry for anybody who is not you – it is that much fun.
Stage Eleven: Hanging up the bike. You are done. You have completed the ride. You tell yourself you are going to keep riding but it takes a lot time to get dressed and then a lot of time to do the ride itself. You have to get caught up with other items. Really, you convince yourself you don’t have time to ride.
Stage Twelve: The search. Geez, what ride should I do next year? I need to do something. What would be a challenge?
Right now, I am about halfway through stage two. I will keep you posted.