I still pretty much hate cycling as a sport. That hasn't changed. (And to be fair, I generally hate all sports. I am not a sports person. The whole idea of working so hard and constantly challenging yourself physically - just doesn't appeal. Life is short, and I prefer to chill the hell out.) But it's pretty obvious to me that I am not done yet.
I still haven't gone 100 miles. Not even close. It's just how I'm built - I can't be done until I do what I wanted to do.
And it's barely been a week, but I already miss my team. On top of that, my body has learned how to ride 50+ miles without it hurting. It feels fine to be on a bike for hours, and I worked hard and persevered for quite some time to get to that point. It seems stupid to just walk away, when I have this good foundation.
Thinking about it (and believe me, I have had so much time to think about it), I know that I'd like riding a lot more if I weren't so slow. Not because I'd like to be speedy. In fact, I am slightly nervous about going very fast and I enjoy a ride more when I can just mosey along, smell the proverbial roses, etc. But the problem is that when you've been riding for hours and you still have hours to go? That turns an enjoyable ride into a chore. I wager I'd like the whole effort more if, after I've been ready to call it quits for ages, there are only 10 or 15 miles to go instead of 30. It makes a big difference. I would never quit if there were only 10 miles left, no matter how long the ride. But if I've been riding for 5 hours and there are still 40 miles left? I don't mind telling you that to keep going requires vast amounts of guts, grit, and determination. Not that I mind busting out my considerable guts, grit, and determination every once in a while, but having to do it every week is a bit much.
This morning, I picked up Pepe (whose wheel is just SO crooked, poor guy), dropped him off to get a new wheel put on, and then I went to see a girl about a very pretty bike. Then I went to two more shops. Looking for a road bike.
Yes, a road bike. Yes, me. For real. Because road bikes are built for speed, so it should help me go faster. I am less of a beginner now, and ready to try it, though I admit I am wildly nervous.
So there you have it: I'm done with training for now, but not with riding. My plan is to sell Pepe, buy a used road bike (in addition to a new commuter bike, and yes that is two bikes, holy cow look how far I have come), and spend the rest of the summer getting used to it. Then next year, we'll see if I improve, and how much. I think I just need more training time and a faster bike, and I can do it. I don't know that I'll do Tahoe again - that will depend on my skill level. But I'll get to 100 miles somewhere, somehow.
Meanwhile, tomorrow I am volunteering at the North Shore half marathon. My coworker, friend, and (most importantly) TNT teammate Elspeth is running and I can't wait to cheer her on. Poor runners, they tend to have very individual journeys that aren't as shared as ours. I mean, the running team doesn't seem to have the same family feel as ours, not a metric tonnage of bonding going on over there, from what I can tell. So all season, Elspeth and I have shared training stories, checked in on each other after long training days, explored the world of endurance nutrition and hydration, compared gear, and all that kind of thing together. Different sports, but a shared experience. So I'm her teammate, and I'm in it with her until she crosses the finish line.
Plus I've volunteered to SAG for the cycling team for several of the remaining rides. So I really am far from being done here.
Man. I really had no idea, when I signed up all those months ago. The sign-up sheet should come with a disclaimer, like Warning: you may wind up wanting to devote a significant chunk of your life/heart/self to this whole thing.