I think I’m entering a mid-life crisis. No, I did not buy a sports car or start styling a comb over. However, I do think I’m understanding more what it means to be at that stage in life. My relationship with the bicycle explains it.
I don’t think a mid-life crisis is so much a particular age as much as a stage in life where people find themselves “caught in between.” As I started out on my ride yesterday ruminating over the jumbled thoughts and emotions in my mind, that was the conclusion I reached. It best describes how I feel.
It isn’t just the bicycle… that is the least of it. Here I am as a middle manager. I still believe in the mission of the university where I serve, but I don’t really see a path of advancement from my current role. It has been exciting starting Worthwhile and watching it grow over the years. However, now it seems that I’m more of an observer than an active participant as I trust its growth to more knowledgeable and experienced team members. The I Do It For Foundation is a tool waiting to take off, but I lack the time and resources I really need to devote to it to help it grow.
A mid-life crisis is like being stuck in one of those Pacific doldrums. That place where the wind stops blowing and the waves disappear. You might be moving with a current, but it is imperceptible.
There was a time when the bicycle became my outboard motor. Getting out on the bicycle and pushing the watts would awaken energy and give me something for which to aim. That energy would carry over to my personal and work life.
However, as I mounted the bicycle yesterday, I sensed that “caught in the middle” feeling. I only had a small amount of time to ride. Even if I had more time to ride, what difference would it make? For what was I doing this? All I needed to do is have 30 minutes or so of exercise to keep myself healthy. The old days of training for an event are long gone.
So, I found myself rolling down the old familiar roads that I have ridden hundreds of times before. I almost felt myself tear up. Not tears of sadness, but of frustration.
With that attitude I found myself at the base of Altamont Road. I put it in the big ring and started the climb. My thought was just to let the frustrations out. I envisioned myself riding to failure and collapsing in a sobbing mess just over halfway.
By the top of the tower segment I felt surprisingly good. I slid under 5 minutes at the halfway point. Reason had returned and the old calculating nature kicked in. I knew I would blow on The Wall if I kept this up. I shifted to the inside ring and focused on my cadence. If I paced this right, I could beat my time of 12:39 from a week ago.
From that point until the end, I wasn’t thinking of my psyche. I was just focused on following the terrain and trying to keep my wattage as high as my physique would allow. Then about halfway up The Wall, I stood and let my pent up feelings flow to my pedals.
I stopped the Garmin at 12:04. I had crushed my earlier 2016 time by over half a minute. I rolled from the “You Made It!” line realizing that my body was actually as strong as it has been for the last several years. I was less than 15 seconds away from my fastest Strava time and just a half minute slower than my fastest time ever set about a decade ago.
You would think that effort would have reawakened something in me. I admit there was an evaluation of where I could have possibly picked up the seconds I would need to get a Strava PR. However, that was quickly followed by, “Why?” What was the purpose in that?
I still feel caught in the middle. It seems that the currents of the different parts of my life keep fighting each other refraining me from being able to gain momentum in any of them. I start to feel like a jack of all trades and master of none.
Anybody else out there understand how I’m feeling? Anyone out there ever faced your mid-life crisis and came out swinging? Anyone have a Corvette they want to sell?