Okay, I admit, with the cold, the cough, and the cost of buying even more layers to layer over the layers I already wear when I ride in the winter, I haven't been riding much at all lately. I felt guilty enough about it a few weeks ago to haul all of my winter bike gear to NYC, in hopes of getting in a few rides over the weekend, but I ended up at the doctor’s instead. And while I think lethargy suits me more than I’d be comfortable admitting, it’s also fueled some scary mental scenarios.
Because with a pretty IF on the way, and legs turning into mush with lack of exercise, my panic has me visualizing scenarios where I get to the base of the GW bridge on my new bike's maiden voyage, only to turn around in humiliation as my legs shake from the exertion. In other imagined scenarios, friends drop me within seconds and fail to notice and I'm left to either fight the wind and cold myself or limp back home. Worst of all, there's the one where I fall over halfway up River Road because I'm too weak to climb the rest of the way, scratching the entire length of my new IF frame [except for the part where my legs might be] as I tumble down the hill, still half clipped in, destroying derailleurs and denting my frame on the way.
That's right. They don't call me a drama queen for nothing.
Which is why I figured a ride was in order yesterday. It wasn’t planned or expected, but the rain was supposed to hold off until 1pm. And it wasn’t freezing cold. Perfect. I cut short my gchat convo with Rich Bravo [that’s right ladies, I have Rich Bravo’s gmail address], got dressed and headed out.
Can I say something? 20 days off the bike + head wind + pms + almost no carbs since yesterday afternoon = the most pathetically sad ride, ever.
It was great for like the ten minutes after my thighs stopped screaming and I warmed up, i.e., I stopped feeling like I was going to have a heart attack. I kept up this mental chatter like, “this is totally fun! You’re outside and riding! Yay!” as my legs went on autopilot and stayed that way for the remaining two plus hours. There was some bad pop pounding into one ear but try as I might, I couldn’t accelerate. Climbing hills that usually only required a little pushing near the top turned into the kind of slow agony that’s somewhat like the feeling you might get when you end up trying to teach your clueless parents how to use the Internet. Worse, my attempted snot rocket turned into a gross snail trail all over my right thigh and leg [sorry Rapha bib shorts].
This was all exacerbated by the fact that I’ve been PMS-ing hardcore. Like “all cookies within a 5 miles radius need to watch out,” hardcore. In desperation, to keep myself from eating the entire bakery a block away, I self-medicated last night with protein instead of carbs and sugar...who knew that would make me feel like a washed up jellyfish as I attempted a simple 30-miler? Probably everyone. But in my defense, I don’t really think my rides are very hard or challenging. They’re usually quick sub two-hour rides that don’t even necessitate on-bike eating. Except this time I was kicking myself for neglecting to bring anything edible on my ride other than a bottle of water. Not even a cough drop. I was hurting. I almost tumbled down a few small hills a la my feared scenarios.
At times crawling at probably 5mph [no joke], I limped back home with a loose right cleat, a busted IT band, and shattered ego. Sure, the extreme front yard Christmas decorations I saw made for both an excuse to stop and snap pictures and ensured that my [possibly] last [for the year, at least] outdoor ride on a single speed was pretty memorable. But I couldn’t help feeling bloated, useless, and unworthy of that IF that’s on the way.
And then Clint tweeted a picture of it. And I had some chocolate.
And you know what? Weak legs aside, I’m feeling good about this coming weekend. Like really good.