Desperation is a poor tactical decision-making strategy to change the way things are currently, especially when the time to act passed months ago. And yet, here I am.
The scale groans slightly less these days when I climb on, but that's all relative. I'm still fat, and that isn't going to change anytime soon. I'm trying to chip away at the fat rolls little by little. I fall off the wagon periodically, then get back on and keep trudging towards... what?
That's just it. I don't have a goal, a target to work towards. I've had some decent success at the lower and middle levels of the small Alaska road racing pond. I know where I fit in the local food chain. A concerted effort (the kind that ends marriages) could bump me up to another level of pack fodder, but I don't have the raw material to be at the top. I could certainly be better, but I've hit the age where you don't make significant gains without extremely significant actions. Some of those actions are difficult to do because of lifestyle constraints. Some are technically illegal. Some, to be 100% honest, I'm just too lazy to attempt.
Thousands of dollars of new bike gear haven't worked their usual magic and motivated me this time around. It used to be that the sight of new carbon fiber would be enough to drive me into a training frenzy, but now I find myself able to logically consider the pros and cons of each new purchase, and little (if any) performance bump results. This isn't a good sign. Like all arms wars, eventually you reach the point of diminishing returns. I can't buy my way out of this funk.
I'm not one for Power Point presentations and spreadsheets and all that sort of quantitative assessment. Like famous race promoter Donald Trump, I tend to make significant life choices based on my gut instincts. Unlike the Donald, they rarely result in a major political party nomination. They usually end up digging me into a deeper hole.
And yet, here I am.
The real question is: what do I want out of this cycling thing? Sounds like a simple question, but getting to the core of it, stripping away the ancillary fluff, can be quite the process. Once that's answered, then I have to figure out what actually contributes to that goal and what detracts from it? What can be changed and what can't? How is success measured? What motivates me to want to keep going?
Starting from the top, here's what I got. I'm a competitive, Type-A asshole. I like measuring myself against a standard to see where I fit in, then trying to improve my ranking. Sometimes that standard is myself (power output, clock, terrain...) and sometimes it's other riders (races, random riders...). I prefer the thin, precise line a road bike carves over the more free-form, improvisational nature of off-road bikes. I like to win occasionally. That, in a nutshell, is me.
Because I'm lazy, I'm going to start with the low-hanging fruit. Since most of my battles are won or lost between my ears, I'm my own worst enemy. Can't lose weight? Between the ears. Blowing off workouts? Between the ears. Sitting up before the finish? Between the ears. Problem is, these are not low hanging fruit. External influences drive these reactions far more than I'd like to admit. I'd like to think I'm this solitary rock, unaffected by the wind and rain that constantly batter me. That's bullshit. I'm a marshmallow Peep, easy to squash or mutilate with the application of a little heat. I'm too old to deny it anymore.
So, what can I do without?
Right off the top of my head, toxic associations jump out at me. Not that those involved are toxic, but rather my connection with them is toxic much in the way bleach and ammonia make poisonous gas. When separated, they perform useful functions. When combined, they kill people. In my case, I'm a giant asshole, and I may not mix with other varieties of giant assholes. The gas we create may kill the very purpose of the association. I'm not a trained psychiatrist, but when you find yourself irrationally screaming "fucktard!" at the screen every time you receive an email, perhaps it's time to step away. If the association is not productive or compulsory, why continue it?
Training. Don't get me wrong, I really, really love working towards a goal. When I have a goal. I don't have a goal. Fuck. In my left-brained mind, training is easier when you have a purpose. X+Y=Z, and you can validate your efforts based on your success achieving that goal. "Riding more betterer" is not much of a quantifiable goal. On the other hand, basing an entire season of effort on a single race almost guarantees failure. I need to find a middle ground there, and moderation is not one of my stronger characteristics. I need a goal, then I can train. For me, goals require a modicum of belief that it's possible. So, I guess my initial goal should be believing. How am I supposed to train for that?
What gets in the way of maximizing my undeniable potential but can't be changed? Life. It interferes every day. Family. The job. School. To one degree or another, they all mean more to me than riding a bike fast. Without the family, I'd be a lonely asshole instead of an asshole with a family he's kinda fond of. Without the job, I couldn't afford bike parts or occasionally feeding/housing said family. Without the school, my future earning potential will be diminished so, again, no bike parts. After dealing with the push-pull of all of these things, the bike riding takes a hit. The five-hour rides become four. Then three. Then two. Then one, but only if I can squeeze it in at the butt-crack of dawn or some other unaccounted-for time slot. Try racing a three hour race after a steady diet of sub-optimal one hour training rides. Not pretty.
At the root of it, I need to kill the negativity, but that means suicide. I need to start looking for the positive. I wish I was a super-positive person, like Stormtrooper Christina Grande, but that sort of thing just isn't in me. I've tried, and it came out forced and insincere. The best I can muster is, "this sucks, but at least it isn't..." as sort of a glass-half-empty-but-I'm thankful-nobody-peed-in-it type of attitude. It's a start.
I'm reassessing a lot of things right now, and I have no idea where it will lead or if anything will change. What I do know is that I need to start trying, because the grind ain't working.
I also know that bikes are fun. It's a start.


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