The last few weeks, I have found myself in a very reflective state which also seems to coincide with the inability to look at things with any sort of detachment or objectivity. Sometimes, this happens because I'm attempting to protect my reflective period and what comes from it, and other times it just seems to just be what it is - whether good or bad.
There is an ebb and flow to these feelings and while I am always aware of my emotions there are times when I find it impossible to write anything here that is in any way technical. These are the days when I find myself thinking on where I have been, where things are going, and how I intend to get to a given point.
The opposite is also true. When I'm not feeling mentally up-to-par, I find myself defeated before I've even started. In fact, sometimes I don't even bother to start because I'm convinced that I will just end up a quivering pile on the side of the road. Logically, I know this isn't true, but it's easy to convince myself otherwise when I've dug myself into a mental hole.
This has been a rough season in regard to cycling. Not only have I faced physical challenges that I didn't want to deal with, but I've had a lot of bike/mechanical/fit issues to contend with and it's created a mild amount of depression. Pulling out of those darker thoughts some days is challenging, but if I have learned anything from riding a bicycle it is that choosing to do nothing will in no way help matters.
As we near the end of August, I can feel my insides craving some sort of challenge. I can sense that doing nothing significant this year is eating at me, tearing at my self-worth. I haven't climbed any ridiculous mountains, I haven't chased any sort of personally unattainable distance, and in fact, I haven't even scheduled or registered for any event at all this year.
Several days ago, I told Sam that I wanted to go and ride Rebecca's Private Idaho. It's an absolutely ludicrous thought because I haven't ridden more than 40 miles in a stretch at all this year, and those "longer" rides have felt like torture, having need to stop every 3-5 miles to work out pains and problem spots. More recently, a long ride is somewhere in the vicinity of about 20 miles. As stated, this definitely hasn't been an all-star year, and it is obvious that I am in no physical shape to take on a major challenge.
Still, I have this urge to attempt a ride that seems insurmountable. I haven't quite decided if the reasoning is simply because I believe I've missed out on too much and want to make up for it, or because I have some sort of sick desire to prove myself incapable of completing a big venture in my current state.
I've pretty well decided that Rebecca's Private Idaho isn't happening. It's too close in time to the Leadville extravaganza and there is much that needs attention here at home which doesn't really allow for several more days away so close to our last departure. Not to mention that there is a ridiculous amount of climbing involved for someone who hasn't pedaled uphill much at all this year.
With all of the pondering though, I realize my great capacity to turn little things into big, and vice versa, depending on my frame of mind.
On one hand, I try to allow myself some leeway, some kindness in dealing with persistent injuries. It's the part of me that understands that healing takes time and pushing things physically isn't always the right option.
On the other side, I question why I don't push harder and simply deal with the pain. After all, there are those in far worse situations than me. I cannot help but feel somewhat like a failure for not being able to drive myself to do the things that are more challenging at present.
In spite of the mental battles that often take place, I am so thankful to still be riding. I may not be taking on the challenges I'd hoped to face this year, but there is time enough for all of these things. My body is slowly healing and I'm finding ways to stretch distance on the bike when things aren't quite so painful. Who knows? I may still get to one of those ambitious goals yet this year.