I haven’t been on the bike much after my last ride on Martha’s Vineyard. I could, and will, make some excuses, but I just didn’t feel like riding for a week. I rode my metric century (100 kilometers) on a Sunday that also included a two and a half hour drive to the island, a ferry ride, some sightseeing, a second ferry ride, and a two and a half hour drive home. I rode an easy ride on Monday to work out some of the leg cramps and soreness. There was no intensity, just recovery. Then I decided to take the rest of the week off. The following weekend I was on call for my work so I was unable to ride outside. Normally this means indoor trainer rides but I talked myself into taking the weekend off as well, in the interest of full recovery. I just didn’t want to climb on the bike. I managed to ride on Monday, but then I had to work extremely late at work for the rest of the week. I did ride on Friday, but it was another quickie indoor ride. I spent the Columbus Day holiday weekend on call and again talked myself out of riding citing family and housework as excuses. I rode on Monday of this last week, but then found excuses until Saturday morning.
It can’t come as a surprise that I have been struggling with weight again during this period. Even if I just stopped riding, my main form of exercise, I would struggle. I have also been struggling with my diet. I had been concentrating on my caloric intake for most of the summer and I have seen some amazing results. This past month I have used my bigger challenges, long rides and an obstacle race, as excuses to fall into old habits. While you can out-train a temporary bad diet, you can’t out-train a permanent bad habit. If I ate a half a pizza after riding 66 miles, it wasn’t good but I did have the caloric deficit to handle it. If I did the same thing on a Wednesday night, not so much. I have found myself struggling to remember the person I want to be as I fall back into the person I was.
The real issue is one that all overweight people struggle with as we try to change into fit people. We hear voices. Not that kind, at least not all of us. We hear voices telling us how great we are going to feel when the workout is over, or how much better we will feel if we eat healthy. We hear voices of society reminding us that we are fat every time we watch television or even look at billboards. Seriously, how many fat people do you see on billboards? We hear the voices of our family encouraging us when we are tired. We hear our doctors telling us that we need to change or be facing years of medical problems until we die early. Unfortunately we also hear ourselves. We make the choices that made us unhealthy in the first place; it is always a part of us that gives the voice to the desire to fall back into old habits. Lately that voice has been winning in my head. The voice that tells me that it’s okay to rest after a long season on the bike. The voice that tells me to only stretch this morning. The voice that tells me that sit-ups and push-ups can wait until we are done with the rest period from the bike. The voice that tells me ice cream is a good reward for a long year of being good. The voice that told me it was okay when I realized I had gained 5 pounds in a week. I hate that voice, but it says the most tempting things to me when I am weak. I named it the Temptation Voice.
I needed to get out and do something to quiet the temptation voice. I needed to remember why I was spending all of this time riding in the first place. Fortunately I had decided earlier in the week to fix up my trail bike. It needed a new rear wheel after the 5 Boro Tour of New York. I popped a couple of spokes on the ride (a reoccurring issue) and the wheel was once again out of true. My mechanic advised a wheel replacement after that ride in the spring as once you lose enough spokes you are likely to lose durability in the wheel. After riding the road bike all summer I decided it was time to get the trail bike back up and running. There are some rides coming up that take place on the rail trails and I wanted to get the bike dialed in before they happen. It is also getting a little late in the year to be riding on the road. There is a lot of debris on the roads with the falling leaves and the sun is getting lower earlier. That makes a recipe for some unsafe conditions for a road newbie like me so it is time for the trails.
All of this came together on Saturday morning. Nothing silences the Temptation Voice like a ride. When you are concentrating on riding there are very few spare thoughts for voices, other than the ones reminding you how to ride, or the hipster one that wants to stop and Instagram the sun rising through the fall foliage. I woke up before dawn and checked the weather. 45 degrees was cold, but workable. I had new arm and leg warmers that I bought for Martha’s Vineyard but didn’t need. It was time to break them out and give them a try. I drive to the trailhead and checked the temperature again. It had gone down six degrees but it was too late to back out. I jumped on the bike and started up the trail. I had to stop immediately. Everything felt wrong. I knew I was on a different bike but I didn’t expect things to feel this off. I made a few quick adjustments and started off again. Better but still not quite right. The seat didn’t feel right. I had to use platform pedals because my clipless ones were on the road bike. I whole bike felt off. I rode the first half of the trail almost thankful for the discomfort as the temp was slipping through the upper thirties. Every downhill section I struggled to block out the cold. Every uphill section I fidgeted on the bike. Every time I looked up and remembered to enjoy my surroundings I remembered why I love riding in New England.
Once I finished my ride I felt better. I looked at my data and I had done the ride at near record pace for that section of trail. Not bad for freezing my butt off and not feeling comfortable on the bike. I also realized why I felt so uncomfortable on the bike, I was significantly smaller than I was the last time I rode it. It’s easy to get caught up in five pounds here or there, but when you think back over the summer it feels good to know that you lost 35 pounds from April to October. Not too bad. A few adjustments and a smaller seat and I will be in business. The best part? Temptation Voice had nothing to talk about for the entire ride. Sometimes you just need a ride to make everything feel a little bit better.
What do you do when you need to quiet the Temptation Voice?