I believe I have explained my method of motivating myself to ride. Each year I choose a big ride and pay for it in advance. Now I am a cheap bastard. it drives me nuts to pay for something, especially something spendy like a big ride, and then not be able to ride in it because I didn’t train! This is why I choose and register early in the year.
However, i will also tell you, that the day before each and every main event I am convinced I will not succeed. I tell myself I haven’t trained enough. Something is sore or just doesn’t feel right. I should’ve done longer rides, or more hills, or longer rides WITH more hills. You name it and I think it.
During the ride, the feeling persists until I KNOW I am at the point I am going to make it!
Now I should discuss what I mean by “make it”. What does succeed mean? This is something each of us have to do before any endeavor.
My rides are NOT races. I am not the fastest cowboy on a bike, hell, to some I am even slow! However, some rides have time limits. Last years I did the STP (Seattle to Portland) in one day. 200 miles! My goal was to get my tired butt over the finish line before it closed at 9 PM ( it started at 445 AM, 16 hrs and 15 minutes total time to complete). I didn’t care if I had only a minute to spare, but I wanted the One Day Rider patch. At 120 miles, i had a flat! Normally I can fix one in under 10 minutes. This one took 45! I kept watching the clock and the odometer and checking the trip sheet, and I was convinced I had blown it. I didn’t realize I had a shot until I was 15 miles out, with a tail wind, and just over an hour left. I made it with 5 minutes to spare! It wasn’t till the very end , when I saw the finish line, I knew I would make it and could relax.
The year before, The High Pass Challenge! 114 miles up to Mt St Helens and back. (7500 feet of total incline and it is NOT all down hill coming back!) This one had a 10 hour time limit (for a bronze medal, gold and silver had shorter time limits.) However, this time my goal was just to complete the course. I wasn’t worried about the medals, I just wanted the satisfaction of pedaling the entire course and NOT having to walk the bike at all. I drove the course the week before though, and I was sure I was doomed. There was one section with 20 miles of incline, ranging from gradual to “for the love of god” I swore I could rappel down some sections! So, when I got to the top of the 20 mile incline on the way back, I could relax, I knew I would finish the course!
Funny thing though, I got down to the last 20 miles, looked at the clock, and I had a shot at a medal. I’m a math geek, so I did the calculations and realized that if I could average over 13 for the last 20 I had it! Now if it was the first 20 miles I could maintain that speed no problem, but I had just done 94 miles of the ugliest terrain i have EVER ridden! So I dug deep. Remember though, my success point was just finish the course, i KNEW I had that Not I was just looking for the icing on top! The cherry on top of the sundae! This was flat-out fun! And yep, with 15 minutes to spare, I made it!
If I am worried each time, then why do I do it? I remember a line from “Smokey and the Bandit”. Why are we doing this? “For the money, for the fun and for the glory! Mostly for the money!” Well there’s no money in these rides! We pay for the privilege of participating. Maybe its more like the pep talk from Shane Falco in “The Replacements” before the last play of the big game, “Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory… lasts forever.” Well the only glory is self-made, or if you are lucky like I am, you have a wife who tells you repeatedly how proud she is of you!
I do it because I have YET to find a ride that can beat me. I go for harder and tougher each year, which means I train harder and better. I am pushing 50, and I can out ride some people half my age and most who ARE my age! I do it so I can look at a map and say, HELL yeah I did it. I do it so I can drive to Portland and know TWICE I pedaled to this town!
What about the confidence I need? Regardless of whether I think I am ready. I have the confidence in myself to know that I am going to give it EVERYTHING I have. if I ever can’t finish a ride, it will be because I left it all on the course, there will be nothing left in the tank. And then I will sign up for that sucker he next year!
I’ve also learned what I CAN do. I no longer fear Century rides! I know I can finish those without a hitch! In 3 weeks is the Chilly Hilly, there’s not a hill on the course that will stop me. The more you ride, the more you challenge yourself, the better you will get. The more times you succeed, the more confident you will get!
I do it because I have loved riding my bike since I learned how in the 2nd grade! It is fun, training rides, working on the bike and the big events! Pure and simple life is too short to NOT have fun!