A lesson learned, a helping hand, a rediscovery, and music to make the insomnia tolerable

It would be an understatement to say that yesterday was interesting. It started much earlier than I would have wanted with a sick child, took a bit of a nose dive, shot through the roof and continued that way 3/4 of the way through my ride, came crashing down in the face of a nasty afternoon wind, almost ground to a halt on a hillside, made a triumphant rebound due to an unexpected gesture of support and a little bit of internal fortitude, then gradually slipped into the ether of fitful sleep interrupted by some insomnia, only to be redeemed in the predawn gloom through some transcendent music. (Ed. note – How’s THAT for a sentence, eh? See what four years of liberal arts education and a lifetime of reading will get you? A blog that you write for free and a crippling social awkwardness, that’s what.)

Anyway, yesterday was my 80% of long ride day. Here’s the vitals:

First the lesson learned. When I started my ride yesterday I was feeling awesome, and quickly got caught up in how good I felt and really let it get the better of me for about the first 45 minutes. I was riding significantly faster than I planned or can realistically expect to keep up for any distance at this point. Basically I was riding at the top of the interval pace that I experimented with on Tuesday, only for a much longer period of time. That was all well and good until about 45 minutes in yesterday. Then two things happened in quick succession: 1. The wind picked up in a big way and was blowing directly into my face and 2. I hit the wall, big time. And I hit it harder than I can remember in a very long time. So the pace dropped dramatically, and I chugged along knowing that one thing stood between me and the end: a Big A$$ Hill (BAH).

I didn’t honestly know if I was going to be able to finish at that point. The route I took yesterday went from my Research Parkway across Alafaya Trail to Blanchard Park and the Little Econ Greenway. As soon as you cross Alafaya on the way out (about 2 miles into the route) you get to the BAH (also known as Lokanotosa Trail). It’s all well and good when you are going down hill and going 25 mph while pumping the brakes, but on the way back as a finisher it’s daunting to somebody like me. Google Maps doesn’t give you the best view but it should give you some idea. The circle on the bike trail next to the street is approximately where the next little vignette takes place.

It doesn't look it, but for a worn out amateur, this may as well be the Pyrenees.

I held together until I reached the hill, knowing that when I got to the top I’d only have a couple of miles of cool down between me and stopping. A couple of hundred yards in the “when” turned to an “if” and I didn’t think I’d be able to finish. About that time, however, another rider came up beside me (who had a sweeeet bike, btw which probably cost more then my house), slowed up and said, “This the end of your ride?” I nodded and gasped something that was supposed to be “yes” but which came out as “BWWWaeellleffff” instead. He gave me a nod and said, “You got this” and then sped off up the hill ahead of me. How cool was that? This guy doesn’t know me from Adam and took the time to offer some encouragement. There was no way I was stopping after that. And I didn’t. It was good to “rediscover” my inner competitive self athletically. Lately it seems like competitive, arrogant me only turns up during trivia night or when constructing the best sentence ever (see above). Welcome back.

There’s an major intersection at the top of the hill that you often have to wait several minutes to cross, so I thought I might be able to catch up to this guy and offer a proper thanks, but when I made it to the top he was no where in sight. So let me say it now, mystery Samaritan on the $5K Trek: Thank you. It was a small gesture on your part but it meant a lot because you could have easily just ridden by without a second thought. I salute you, sir, and pass along a heavy dose of good karma to you.

I basically coasted back into the parking lot at work after beating BAH and surviving the Alafaya Trail crossing, which isn’t easy (Hannibal crossed the Alps with less danger). I ended up cutting my ride just a mile or so short but given the pace that I rode the first 45 minutes this is really a wash. Feel good this morning with some stretching and a brisk walk to look forward to this evening.

I mentioned my insomnia last night and some of the music that I turned to that made it not only tolerable but pleasurable. To me, the early morning hours when you are straddling that line between consciousness and sleep are the best time to dial up the deep, emotional tunes in your library as you ponder the big thoughts. So no Beastie Boys or Vampire Weekend. Here’s five that worked last night. Some are happy, some a little sad, but they are all real and vital, which makes them great.

I tweeted last night that Michael gets a lifetime pass for writing this one. It’s true, not even the horrors contained in Around the Sun can take that away.

Same thing goes for Dr. Tchock, aka Thom Yorke. Esp the 3:25 mark. Just amazing.

The lovely and talented (and did I mention lovely?) Neko Case. Her voice can soothe the most savage beast.

Ever feel like there’s a song that somebody wrote about you specifically? This is mine sometimes.

And I saved the best for last. You might need to turn the volume up a notch since this is an old recording. It’s only a shame the original with Gram Parsons isn’t on Youtube for sharing, but this is sublime.

Do you have a similar experience about strangers performing a random act of kindness that inspired you? What about a song that “speaks” to you?

Cheers.

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Posted on June 9, 2011, in Cycling, Music and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

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