Release

I can tell when I’m under pressure. My face breaks out like I’m back in high school. If you want an idea of how my life has been going lately, just take a look at my complexion.

Yesterday I had an opportunity to find some relief for an hour or so. I had forgotten the therapeutic properties of the bicycle. Here is to rolling your troubles away.

My training has taken a nose dive. I haven’t been wanting to admit it — hence the lack of posts over the last several days. Until last night, the last time I rode my bike was the time trial on Thursday.

I’m in one of those situations in my life where everything is starting to pile up behind the dam and I don’t have enough fingers to plug the holes that are beginning to form. Some setbacks have put pressure on my wallet. I’m looking at a number of new projects at work that are going to require a lot of time and effort to accomplish. I have a couple of speaking engagements coming up that I’m having to prepare for. Oh yeah, there is the family as well.

Oh, and what about that heat? It is really affecting me this year. Maybe it is just that the heat compounds all the other things. All I know is it just seems to sap the strength right out of me — and that is before I even get on the bike.

Well, getting off work, I was unable to make it in time out to Donaldson Center for the Tuesday Night World Championships.  I rolled my bicycle out on my driveway and just started pedaling. I was supposed to go do repeats on Piney Mountain. I turned my wheel and went the opposite direction.

No warm-up. I just started pedaling the way I used to when I first started riding. It felt good.

Sure, I was riding at too low of a cadence. I wasn’t paying attention to the computer. I was going too hard too soon.

It is just that there was something welling up inside of me that coursed down to my legs and said for me to “Go!” Maybe it was just that I was wanting to ride away from the pressures behind me. I was like a  kid who starts running from those who tease him. He doesn’t know where he is running. He just runs.

Through the parks and onto the Swamp Rabbit trail. Yes, forgive me, but I was going a little faster than I normally do on the trail — on this Tuesday night, there were large sections with no other people around.

Nearing Furman, I began to see Paris Mountain rising beyond the trees. Like in the early days, it was calling me. I knew what I was going to do.

I turned off of the trail and made my way to the base of Altamont Road. There was going to be some pain involved in this, but I was seeking it. It would focus my mind to narrow down to just thinking about making that next few yards in front of me. Everything else would disappear. The pain of my legs would distract from all the thoughts swirling around in my head.

Halfway up the road I glanced at the computer. I was feeling good and had made a respectable time (for me) to this point. 5 minutes and 30 seconds to cover the first mile. If only I could duplicate that for the last mile.

It wasn’t to be and that was alright. I wasn’t trying to land a personal best. I was just seeking a release.

Sure enough, about three thirds up the effort I started to wane. “Don’t stop,” I ordered myself. “Keep pushing.” I still wasn’t looking at the computer. This was all about what I was feeling.

I finished by standing and fighting up The Wall to the line. Looking back at the data, I see my heart rate heading toward 200 bpm. Right when I thought I was going to drop, I passed the line.

It took me about 7 minutes to finish that last half for a time of 12:38, but that was okay. As I took on oxygen and started the sweeping descent off of the mountain, I was relaxed. The pedaling and pain was over. Now I got to enjoy letting the bike run around the curves. There was joy following the pain.

Release.