Pushing through the struggle
My mood definitely shifted along with the weather last week – an unwelcome sympatico. Though the constant high heat made office work a trial the drop in temperature and shifts to cloudy skies and showers left me feeling a bit despondent. A midweek evening meal out with a friend helped enormously. I had to work part of Saturday which interrupted my usual routine. I had planned to ride to Brighton on Sunday with my sister-in-law. I’d checked out a new route from South London to the coast which seemed to have a few quiet lanes.
On the morning I hit snooze a couple more times than planned. A grey morning, breezy too. I’d prepared my bottles and put aside a couple of energy bars to stick in my jersey pocket. I had a bit of fettling to do with the bike and left, what I thought, was enough time to do it before getting to our rendezvous point. I ended up running a few minutes late. My riding companion ran a bit late too and I waited nearly half and hour. I wondered whether she was late, or had an accident – I texted. I considered that she might have forgotten – something which would be highly unlikely. I wondered whether I had the energy to do the ride on my own, or would I just go back home and crawl back into bed?
I didn’t notice fully at the time how anxious I was – too busy weighing up all the various options. I was still deciding when my wheel buddy arrived (she’d had her own issues with closed roads and diversions on the way) and the intensity of worry faded away without my noticing. The magic of distraction.
We rolled out steadily, leaving the suburbs behind and climbed gradually up to the edge of the North Downs. We chatted all the way, both having a whinge about work and other frustrations. A guy sat on our wheels but at least did have the grace to thank us for the pull when he passed us. He seemed to run out of gas a little further on and we passed him again. For those familiar with the area – Layhams, Clarks, Gangers, Tandridge to start off with.
I’ve been registering my ability to worry about EVERYTHING. Well, most things. Or lots of them, anyway. When I’ve taken responsibility for a route it’ll be about that. Or time. Or my bike. Or not having the right layers. Though I’ve started using one of the larger Podsac saddle bags which allows for more space without hassle on my lighter road bike.
Anyway, much of the time the worrying proves to be ‘unnecessary’ – entropy. Then the relief. Though by that time the energy has already been wasted. I’m still learning to recognise when it’s happening and actually do something about it. A work in process/progress.
Anyway – as per usual, once the climb up to the edge of London was done, and the legs warmed up I became more forward looking and focused on where we were going.
We had a headwind all the way, except for on top of the South Downs where it became a blustery crosswind and we were fighting the bikes. The new route was a little more… uppy-downy than my usual one and there were some short sections of busy road, but there were long runs down quiet lanes where we could ride side by side and chat.
It was a humid, sticky day – we didn’t really cool down when we stopped. It wasn’t too bad climbing up Ditchling Beacon – a few cars. Much to my surprise the ice cream van wasn’t in the car park when we reached the top – too rainy and windy to expect much in the way of trade that day. Visibility was pretty poor too. No chest-expanding views to the north or the south. A fellow rider said, “Like a pilgrimage but with no cathedral at the end.” I did mention there was usually an ice cream van in the car park… “A cathedral of a sort.” Did feel a bit meh.
Once both of us were at the top we put on a layer and it was head down across the top of the Beacon to Hollingbury where there’s a nasty left-right junction across a very busy road to negotiate. I always worry about being able to get back into my pedal quick enough to push off and position myself in time – the cars come up fast behind you.
We rolled (slowly! Headwind….) down into Brighton. The plan was my meet my sister for lunch. Familiar awful tarmac around part the Steine, though some had been relaid and it was lovely and smooth. No rain in Brighton. Just fish and chips and ice cream. My sister had driven down so there was the unusual luxury of a ride home.
The day felt like a salutary reminder of how lack of motivation can be a block, but be one you can fight through. I feel so much better for the exercise, the satisfaction of having ridden, the company on the road. It was also great that we settled on a pub in a very unhurried way. Even the ride, though at a good steady pace, was not pushed – 4hrs riding, but 5hrs with stops.
It’s so easy to hear and say things regarding motivation – how you need to push through the unwillingness, the initial lack of energy. So hard to do sometimes – particularly if there isn’t anyone on hand to counter your doubts. This was one of the, apparently regular, reminders I need that I can overcome the ‘meh’ and turn it into something of value (thus also avoiding the trap of guilting myself for *not* going out).
I confess I’m a little concerned about the Autumn and Winter. Committing myself to exercise I don’t feel I can easily ignore, or cancel, will be the way to manage. Turbobeat again for me. Maybe gym. And a push to get myself out if the sun isn’t shining and the enthusiasm reserves seem to be dwindling.
Anna Dingle, who wrote the last guest blog post, also rode to Brighton on Sunday. We must have only just missed each other as we worked out afterwards that we were at Ditchling Beacon around the same time, and also on the seafront at Brighton. I briefly reflected on how great it would have been to cross paths. It was, however, just good to learn about it via the wonders of social media. Anna, we should actually go for a ride together sometime…