I rode my bike this morning. I fucking hate my bike.* The plan was to ride 40 miles with this training group my dad’s a part of, all through neighborhoods and on roads where I’ve ridden before. They (Dad and Doug) told me it would be easy. They were, as usual, full of crap.
The part about the course being familiar was true enough, but that didn’t make it easy. It really only meant I knew when we were approaching the biggest hills and scariest intersections, and could build my dread and resentment accordingly. And it was more like several, smaller familiar courses lumped together – it wasn’t 40 miles, it was 45. (My goal is to be at 55 by May. I have time.) And my riding partner Amanda wasn’t there to gossip with me and distract me from the pain in my legs. And I fell behind and got lost a few times, even though I knew I wasn’t facing any hills or roads I hadn’t handled before, which was, to say the least, demoralizing. And, obviously, I was already having a bad week.
During our sessions, my therapist likes to try to get me to have these mini psychotic breaks in her office, since we’re in a safe environment. It’s the bioenergetic thing. She wants me to punch the couch, or stamp my feet, or yell, “I hate this!” I usually just giggle and tell her how silly that would feel since, at that moment, I don’t really feel like hitting or stamping or yelling anything.
No no, apparently, I’d much rather have my breakdowns in public.
So today, on my bike, I cried. I yelled. I cursed. I completely ignored a more experienced rider when she came up behind me and tried to give me advice. I yelled, “I hate this!” I called Doug an asshole – twice, he claims, though I don’t remember either time. What I do remember is thinking about getting off my bike and throwing it off an overpass, or falling down on purpose – anything so that I wouldn’t have to ride anymore.**
I always marvel at those therapy patients who have to psych themselves up while sitting in the waiting room. Like they know what they’re about to do is going to be very uncomfortable – painful, even – but that maybe it will benefit them in the end. I, on the other hand, love going to therapy, because I love talking about myself. But my bike seems to elicit the bioenergetic responses that I’m too composed to give while in my therapist’s office. So maybe that’s why, even though I know it’s going to be very uncomfortable – painful, even – I keep agreeing to go on these stupid rides. Maybe it will benefit me in the end, and not just physically.
When we got to about the 30-mile mark, I decided I’d had enough. I felt like my gears weren’t catching tightly enough, although I later admitted that the problem was probably only about 20% mechanical, 80% human. (“Always blame the bike,” one of my dad’s friends insisted.) So Doug told the group that he and I were going to cut out the last loop and head back to the cars, turning the 45 miles into 35.
“Wait. You’re cutting it short?” one woman asked. “Can I come with you?”
By the time we got to the intersection where we were to part ways, six of the eight riders in our relatively-beginning-level group had decided to come with us. So maybe I hadn’t been the only one suffering out there; maybe I’d just been the only one suffering openly, the only one getting the therapeutic benefits of yelling.
On our way home, Doug and I stopped to get chocolate milkshakes. And after my shower, I put on a t-shirt with a picture of a bike on it, to remind myself that, even though cycling hurts and often makes me miserable, you know, I’ll be back.
*Actually, it’s more of a love-hate. But today, just hate.
**Yes, these destroy-the-bike thoughts are typical when I’m tired and frustrated on a ride. No, I would never actually destroy the bike. Because then what would I do Wednesday mornings?