Posted by: fizzhogg | February 7, 2012

You Must Get Lost To Be Found

You all know how much I love the Rapha films, and specifically the whole philosophy of the Rapha Continental.

This weekend I had my own Rapha Continental. I had a great weigh-in… Oh! The weigh-in!

This week’s weigh-in…

213.5

Yes! Down two pounds from last week. We are descending again!

Okay, back to the Continental. So, I had a great weigh-in, then watched an outstanding cycling dvd (subject of my next post) given to me by Little Joey Choo Choo – so named because of his similarity to that little train in that little book about climbing hills.

The weather was decent if not for a little wind, and I needed to spend most of the day working, but I wanted to ride. So I donned my Rapha jersey and new Rapha bibs (thank you Santa), dropped 5 Gu’s into my pocket and headed out to get in a good 25-30 miles – a two hour ride.

Let me pause here to say… I always put too many Gu’s in my jersey. Always. It’s because Hova once warned me about getting stuck out on the road without any fuel and thus, bonking. I have never bonked since early 2010 and it’s because I always take enough Gu’s.

But it gets annoying when I return from rides and have two or three or four or more Gu’s left over. I’ve been doing this a while now, I know how much I eat on the bike – every 30-40 minutes. No matter what. So… going out for a two-hour ride like I was on this day, meant I needed no more than four Gu’s. But I took five to be safe, just not seven like I normally would.

Who can spot the foreshadowing?

So I rolled out for a nice two-hour ride with the images of this great dvd in my head, and the magic of the Rapha kit on my Philip Seymour Hoffman-like physique. I decided I would do what’s called here in Cycling Mecca “Hidden Valley out and back.”

A nice 26-mile cruise without much climbing, and a nice little headwind, which means the greatest gift in cycling – a tailwind on the way home.

But as I neared the fork in the road – don’t all of life’s greatest moments involve a fork in the road? As I neared the fork in the road which signifies the end of the “Out” part…

Let me pause here to explain… you get to the fork and turn around for the “out and back” ride, or else you continue on and immediately encounter a stinging half-mile climb, followed by a glorious 2 .2-mile descent where even a girlie descender like Little Joey Choo Choo can reach speeds well over 40mph. If you do that, the only way “back” is to either turn around and go up the 2.2 mile (10% avg) climb or else ride on, eventually doing one of several loops, making the ride anything from 35 miles to over 60.

At the fork, I was feeling so good that I kept going. I hadn’t really gotten my climbing legs back this season, but for some reason I wanted to test myself, push myself. So I did. I went up the stinger as fast and as hard as I could, then down the other side, reaching 45mph. Nothing gets the adrenaline going like hitting 45mph on 1-inch of rubber right after cooking yourself on a climb.

WooHoo!!!

Then something really cool happened that has only happened to me once or twice before. I hit what I call the Rapha Zone. Suddenly, I was just riding. I wasn’t paying any attention to speeds or heart rates or cadence or efforts or any of that. I wasn’t thinking about my route or my time or my miles.

I was just riding. Not cruising, but riding. Not taking it easy, but not redlining.

And before I knew it…

I was lost.

I had gone beyond the last turn which makes the 55-60 mile loop. I was in a place I’d never been. And I didn’t care. I was loving it. I took out my iPhone with its amazing map app, and found which roads I needed to hit to get back home. I knew I was low on Gu and water, but hey – I read my app and knew just a left turn here, a right turn there, and I’d be back in familiar land, and could refill bottles and get home on my last 2 Gu’s.

I read the app wrong.

Or rather, I didn’t pay close enough attention when I was reading it. I hit a road I’d seen on the app that ran along the freeway and led back to a familiar area. But guess what?

The road does not run along the freeway… the road was an ONRAMP TO the freeway. US 101 to be exact.

Oops.

I stopped, dismounted The Goat, and started the walk of shame back up the ramp, cars honking, desperately hoping I didn’t die in such a lame way.

Eventually, I found my way back to more familiar territory, managed to refill my water bottles, and as I was headed in the general direction of home, the wind shifted. Shifted as in – went from 2nd gear to 5th gear. Within minutes I was cranking into a headwind that had to have been 25-30mph. It sucked.

But it was also great. I was on a Continental. I was just riding. I loved every suffering minute.

And for the second time during that ride I forgot about my destination and got lost (this time thematically) in the ride.

I saw a newly paved road I had never been on and decided to take it. I had no idea what my mileage was at this point, and honestly had no memory I was down to one Gu. Home was due east. This road went Southeast.

Close enough.

As I rode and explored and rode and explored, Blind Faith’s CAN’T FIND MY WAY HOME filled my head. I was having the time of my life.

I was back.

My new road led to another and suddenly I was climbing again. I downed the last Gu, and cranked. And cranked. It was a climb I’d never done. And to be honest – in hindsight – if I had been aware of the climb before doing it on any other day, I would not have done it. I would have told myself “You don’t have your climbing legs back” or “You are too fat right now” or “Save it for April or May.”

But I didn’t…

I hit the summit, completely drained, and yet, feeling better than I had in weeks and weeks… and here’s what was waiting for me at the top…

Sometimes you must get lost to be found.

For you stat geeks, in the end I had ridden 52 miles, climbed 3000 feet and rolled up to my place with no Gu and not a drop of water left in my bottles.

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat… only with more Gu’s.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Enjoy the RIDE.

 

You’re very good, you are, you are

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Responses

  1. There is no greater joy than a homeward tailwind! Great writing!

  2. I bet you’ll happily carry a few extra Gu’s from now on just in case the road calls. Putting the leftovers back in the stash is a very small price for extraordinary rides like this one.

  3. Great post! But I would like to know what you mean by “where even a girlie descender…” ? I’ll have you know that as a female cyclist from the Denver area, I often descend on these beloved Rockies at speeds greater than 50mph. You seem to associate the word girl and descending together in a pejorative manner. Tell that to Emma Pooley and Christiane Soeder!

    • Actually, if you had read the previous post, that was a call back to a joke I made in which I was referencing a “little girl.” Not a female cyclist.

      And Pooley is not much of a descender, actually. Soeder is decent, but if you want to talk fast female cycling descenders then lets talk about Marianne Vos, or Noemi Cantele. They’re as good as Thor Hushovd and Sammy Sanchez.

      If you want to really get into it, we can talk Michelle Dumaresq – who, in her prime probably descended faster than anyone we’ve mentioned.

      • I applaud your celebration of a transgendered cyclist! Regarding the use of girlie in the perforative sense, I only respectfully suggest perhaps replacing girlie with “child”. Though I acknowledge it doesn’t have the same punch and verve, it would just maybe, be more inclusive and tolerant to the junior female cyclists out there who zip by their male counterparts. Btw, I love your blog! 🙂

  4. two words – Post it on Strava

    Dammit! I just cant count.

  5. Good morning from the UK. I really enjoyed your post today,very well written, I wished I was there with you. Its currently snow and ice in the UK and the morning and evening commutes are still in the dark so looking forward to better weather and lighter days for a bit more cycling. Its funny the the Good Lord hands out a lot more Philip Seymore Hoffman bodies than he does Brad Pitt ones (my wife tells me he has a good one). I’ve got a Hoffman. The other thing is since reading your article I cant stop singing “Can’t find my way home” good good track. All the best.

  6. Excellent post. I am so anal about my route that I don’t think it is possible for me to become lost, which is to my detriment as I would enjoy your experience. Perhaps one day when I am far from home I will head off somewhere with no idea of where I’m going. Knowing me, I won’t be able to handle that, but maybe I can trick myself into doing it!


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