Tuesday, March 5, 2013

In the long haul

Part of the Diablo Cyclist's crowd that helped me ride 110 challenging miles. (I'm the one in white.)
The long ride this week was a crisp one; not a breath of wind, but I wouldn't have called it "hot" out as we left Heather Farms Park in Walnut Creek, either. Mere miles into the ride,  "Chairman" Ward, innocently observed as we pedaled our way toward the Pig Farm: "You haven't updated your blog since 2012." And he's right, I haven't-- but I had little to say that Saturday morning about that. 
Me, headed up Wild Cat Canyon.

After all, I've been writing. More than I ever thought I would, actually. I write every night when I get off work. "Writing"-- not my day job-- involves creating something new, revising, or sending a piece out to a literary journal when it's ready and tracking all this action on a spreadsheet that may very well be larger than the 300-square foot cottage I live in.  

I think one of the reasons why I like endurance sports so much-- or why I am a writer-- is because they are both so similar. Both are long processes in which you may never make a living doing; but the more you practice at a sport or at writing, the better you get and that distant oasis of-- of what exactly? it's not greatness.. but proficiency? of pride?-- glimmers just beyond the visible horizon. And you just can't help yourself. Swim more. Ride more. Write more. The mistresses that rule your life in the hours you aren't behind a desk, doing something that might not be exciting, but that (at least) funds their existences. 

For all this writing: is my writing better? Can you tell

It's not like a physical skill. But then, it's hard to tell with those, too, when you play with others.

Last Saturday, we had a girl join the group who actually races. I loved to watch the way she attacked the downhills; descending like a madwoman. I admired her more when she admitted she'd busted up her face enough to need reconstructive surgery after the front tire of her commute bike failed and she buffered the fall with her visage. And still, she descends like she's fearless. Just the thought-- or the possibility-- of that sort of personal road rash makes me descend like a grandma. Just to be safe. 

The big news, though, is that the prescribed ride was 50 miles through the Berkeley Hills. And really, in all, it's one of our club's more challenging "prescribed rides." I didn't want to do the bonus miles. I felt like crap at mile 50; my legs were tired from going hard on the ups to compensate for my suckiness on the downs; I've also become (again) a fat-free vegan and I'm wondering if that's truly the best thing for a person who wants to be an athlete. (After the documentaries I watched about how farm animals are treated, however, I'm not sure this this a negotiable issue.)

I JUST DIDN'T WANT TO DO THE LONG RIDE. The racer-girl was going back home and I had an out-- a great out-- to take her back to Walnut Creek like a good-club-member that I aspire to be. And then I'd have had 50 miles of hills. And maybe I'd spend the rest of my day doing laundry. 

 But dammit, my guys didn't let me quit.  I was in for the long haul. 

For sixty miles more: over the undulating ridge line to Castro Valley, down to Palamares and up and over that hill not once, but twice before turned around to come back again. 

In a way, it's like my writing is sometimes: I don't want to do it, but I've got to keep going. Even if it sucks and I have no validation from the outside world. 

So, Saturday I ended up riding 110 miles. That's the longest I've ridden on a day in February. Usually the bike doesn't see sunlight until late March. 

So I don't wonder so much at the news that I am FINALLY GOING TO BE PUBLISHED. I've been submitting my work all over; I've been working longer than I ever thought I'd have to-- but finally, something happened. (More news very soon.)

And maybe that's the lesson: you just have to keep at it, whatever it is you do. 

I'm just so grateful I'm a part of a group that makes me remember to smile along the way.

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