I haven't really known what to blog about recently.
Things have been extremely busy with family (my wife's currently working extremely long hours at the hospital...often there at 4:30 or 5am and not home til after dark), research, some consulting I'm doing for an oncology firm, and of course riding.
Last weekend, I returned from a 3hr ride simply ecstatic because I had set a goal for myself regarding not shifting and managed to feel good the whole ride. It's those little, somewhat arbitraty bench marks that I find entertaining. Although I've been opposed to Strava for a while because it seems silly to race virtually, I started using my account a couple of weekes ago so that I can record my volume for the year. Anyway, after this ride I saw that my legs had produced more kJ's in 3hrs then a friend of mine had done in a 6.5hr century. I didn't really feel ecstatic or victorious, or somehow superior in that comparison...it's funny, but competition on the bike for me is much more of an internal, i.e. introverted, process of pushing myself to do things as opposed to me wanting to beat others. I've spent a lot of time thinking about why a ride and why I race and one conclusion I am absolutely certain about is that I don't do it to win or beat others. I do it to challenge myself and break boundaries.
I train on the bike because, quite simply, it (I'm paraphrasing something I read from strength coach Charles Staley) it restores my confidence in the value hard work. Exercise is of course healthy, but I have no delusions that health is the output of the input (physical, emotional, social, financial) I put into cycling. So why do I give it so much? I bleed over it. Why do I aleter and orchestrate my career and lifestyle so that I'll be able to ride and race?
Part of it is that I've always been this way. Speed skating as a kid. Then bikes, then rock climbing, and then back to bikes again. And it was during rock climbing, where pseudo-taoist-buddhist philosophy runs deep, that I think I learned to love and desire the internal process of trying really, really hard to do things...to move, to feel my body, and connect to the earth and feel the elements.
Competition is fun, but self-competition is what drives me. I hate to sound corny, but cancer has deepened this sort of self study, journey, quest, etc. Given the state of my lungs and history with thyroid cancer, pushing myself on the bike, seeing what I'm capable of, somehow provides meaning in all of this.
I'm really excited for this next year. We're going to be super busy...I hope to finish up my PhD by next spring, then will be at a crossroads to decide if I should then try and do both medicine and science, or just one. In the meantime, I'm going to do some NUE racing this next year on the mountain bike; sometimes I set out on my bike with the knowledge that I'm going to suffer. This is one of those cases....but I can't freakin wait!
Cohutta 100 is first in the smoky mountains on April 27th.