Today Was The First Ride In A While

Today was my first bike ride in a while. I’ve been rehabbing from an injury that occurred the end of last season. I haven’t been on the bike a lot this year.  And when I was, the rides were relatively short.

It was chilly when I stepped outside this morning. I had decided to wear an extra layer and some arm warmers, after peering through my window at the north shore mountains and the huge fir tree a few blocks away, which I used as my weather vane. As I headed out, my inner voice was yammering, “Argh it’s cold!  Why are you doing this? You aren’t in shape for this.  It would be easier if had been out in this kind of weather more regularly.  Blah blah blah.”  I had to say “shut up” to myself.

I headed west into the chilly wind, happy I was out there, but also listening to the negative chatter over my shoulder. I decided to just take things easy, spin the pedals and not expect too much. This is usually an idea I find difficult to adhere to even when it’s my own.

I made my way through Kitsilano on 1st Ave up the hill and removing my arm warmers at the top. Then as I headed down to Point Grey road, I was spinning ever easier.

So far I was feeling pretty good and realizing how I had been missing being out on the bike and feeling the flow.

The sun was starting to warm things, so I removed my vest and headed along the beach, taking in the view of the ships in English bay and our beautiful mountains rising up behind them. The wind had died down, and I was starting to enjoy the freedom of being out on the road and feel an increased sense of my surroundings as I often did while riding.

Still aware of my legs and unsure how strong they felt, I set my goal for an easy spin up the UBC hill from Spanish Banks. This hill is always a good test of how I feel.  As I rounded the first curve to start climbing, my eyes set on a rider about 300 meters up the hill. This was where motivation just came to me.  I could decide to continue spinning easy or to challenge myself and catch that rabbit up the hill. I caught the rabbit. I started setting challenges for myself as I went on. One might be to catch a rabbit before a certain point or to beat them to the top. It’s at this point where the progressive motivation kicked in and setting short-term goals for the rest of the ride took over.

It could be a sign or a pole a set distance away, or it could be another rider or group of riders.  You decide to sprint that distance or to stand on the pedals until you bridge the gap. It’s all about setting the goal and pushing your body to accomplish it while achieving small victories along the way. Just getting out of the door on a cold morning could be one small victory. So far on this ride I had accomplished a few and I was feeling pretty good.

I caught up to another rider shortly after reaching the top of the UBC hill. We started to talk as we rode south and passed UBC farm and Thunderbird stadium. He had just returned from partially riding the Trans Alp race. He got injured running up some stairs and couldn’t finish the ride, but he was back on the bike and looking pretty fit. We pushed a fairly hard pace on Southwest Marine, a nice rolling up and down stretch that had its own little challenges along the way. We parted ways near the Arthur Liang bridge and I headed east to Cambie St and the nice steady climb from Marine Drive up the 37th Ave. I like to do repeats on this hill because I can push hard on it and feel stronger and stronger doing it. Today I climbed at a good hard pace hitting the lights perfectly and not disrupting my rhythm. I got to the top feeling amazingly well for not having ridden much recently and enjoyed the fast big gear turning ride back down home near Cambie and Broadway.

I set goals as I went and felt great at accomplishing what I didn’t know I’d set out to do, pushing myself harder than I had planned.

We all have times where it is difficult to just get started. We can think of a million reasons not to do it or to do it later. Then when later comes we still don’t do it and we beat ourselves up for letting ourselves down.

I didn’t feel super excited about riding today but in the end I sure was happy I did. Just make the decision to start and with some effort, little by little it will get easier, and in the end you will accomplish the goal you set and maybe achieve even more than you have planned.