I can stop any time I want.
Then around the middle of July I was riding my bike down to the Cape, which is about 95 miles from my house. It usually takes me about 4.5 hours. On this day, I had a strong tailwind and beat my previous best time by almost 30 minutes. With the endorphins flying around my head like mosquitoes at a cookout, I started thinking about my favorite race, the Green Mountain Stage Race, which is held on Labor Day weekend in the mountains of Vermont.
Like an alcoholic stopping into the bar for “just one drink”, I’ve found myself face down in a lactic haze of tracking intervals, watts, heartbeats, kilojoules, and time ridden. I can tell I’m getting into race shape because riding a bike is just about all I can do. A 4 hour hard ride with 6000 feet of climbing? Sure. Climbing out of the car and up the stairs to my front door? I don’t think so. I need to rest and catch my breath in the middle. It’s a very specific strength one develops while training to race a bike, to the exclusion of almost all other normal activities.
I’m not sure what it is about all the pain and suffering, the sweat, snot and bloodshed involved, that keeps me coming back. I often say that if our government put the detainees at Guantanamo through the kind of torture that my friends and I subject ourselves to willingly, Amnesty International would be all over them with valid charges of human rights abuse.
I have met some of my favorite people in the world through this sport, so there’s that.
I’ve fallen off the wagon completely. Hopelessly. I swear I’ll stop after Labor Day and get back to the serious work of working seriously. Just one more race. Really.