It’s raining outside. I love the rain – really. That’s probably odd for a cyclist – and after 2,400 miles in a year I think I’ve qualified to be a cyclist – but it’s so soothing. I love the damp air, the humidity surrounding you, carrying the sounds of every drop. And of course, the thunder. Rolling, barreling, cracking.
Rain is good.
But I’ve got nine days. Nine days until I ride my first century, and it’s raining. A hundred miles, and it’s raining. Some cyclists would read this and chuckle a bit. They know that supported rides are just that – supported. Big ol’ rest stops with snacks, water, Gatorade, restrooms, the works, spaced out at nice intervals where people will most likely need a rest. Yeah, it’s far, but it’s not hard. At least, it doesn’t need to be.
But it’s raining, and I can’t ride. Will one more ride make me ready? Make it all possible? Probably not, but it’s better than just sitting around.
I’ve performed since I was young. In front of tens of thousands of people with hundreds of fellow performers and solo in front of hundreds. I’ve done martial arts demos, fight scenes, Chinese lion dancing… the list goes on. When I perform, I’m calm, centered, focused. I was lucky, and learned early on to find “the zone”. But never in my years have I been able to avoid the jitters.
Most people would say “This isn’t a race, so why are you worried?” Or “It’s a supported ride, should be no problem.” Yeah, I’ve had these conversations with myself many times. But the jitters aren’t about what you know. You know you’ve trained pretty well (I won’t say very well, I love food too much to make that kinda sacrifice). You know it’s a supported race. You know you can take your time and not push yourself. That ain’t what I think about though. What I think about before an event – every event – this event – is what I don’t know.
I’ve never ridden 100 miles in a day. I don’t know what my body will do that far into a ride. I’ve never done this particular ride – the Flower Power Ride – and I’ve never been to Muskogee. Have I trained enough? Too much? Am I setting my goal of 16.5 mph average too high? Am I just a novice with delusions of adequacy?
Yeah, I can tell myself I’ll be fine. I’ll do what I can, how I can, as fast as I can – no more, no less. But that doesn’t help. Type-A mentality: failure is not an option. I will do my best. But therein lies the rub. Just because I do my best, doesn’t mean I’ll succeed.
Failure might not be an option… but it’s one shitty possibility.
And it’s raining. And I can’t ride. There’s always tomorrow though. Just gotta keep rollin’.