Saturday, November 13, 2021

It Always Seems to Happen

Ryan and myself
The cell phone alarm worked as it had been set. By 3:15AM, Ryan and I (Gravel Grunts Cycling Squad) were ingesting calories and making final preparations for the short drive to Webster, Wisconsin. The Fenton Lake 100 (actually 109 miles) was to begin at 5AM. Parked near the start line, I grabbed a complimentary cup of coffee from Fresh Start Coffee Roasters. The robust flavor profile of the coffee, as well as its warmth lifted my spirits on the foggy, 33 degree morning. The realization that I had left my hydration pack at the Pine Wood Motel broke through the caffeine contentment.  Coffee in hand, I rapidly drove through the fog to retrieve the pack. Returning to the start, the event officially began while I was finalizing lighting, tracking device, bike, and my pack. Chris (finally got to meet this fellow Minnesotan) with whom I was to ride waited patiently. He was not certain of his navigation device, so he needed me for proper direction. About 5:10AM, we rode into the foggy darkness with lights ablaze!

This was not the first time the disruption of plans delayed my start. These last minute snafus have been more frequent than I want to admit. It always seems to happen. When it does, it impacts more than my start time. It sets my attitude and perspective for what lies ahead. As much as I attempt to embrace what is, placing little delays into perspective, I have difficulty silencing the negative self-talk. For as often as it occurs I should not let it affect me. I am not competing for a top finishing position. I do not relish being in a pack of participants as events begin. Yet, it impacts my confidence and sense of preparation for the miles and hours which lie ahead.

It is not only events with specific start times in which this occurs. The unexpected opportunities which are present in daily life trip up my perspectives. Lately, numerous unknowns have become common place. What and whom I have previously understood have transitioned into the unfamiliar. I sense my preparations from the past are not sufficient for the present. Frustrations, destructive self-talk, and a noxious attitude all leap forward. As the day progresses I find myself serpentining through these realities. Eventually I discover a path and a rhythm which frees my outlook. Ending the day, I have endured, discovered, and gained insight. It always seems to happen.

Chris is a few hills ahead.
Chris was a great companion for numerous hours. His GPS device worked sporadically. My navigational skills were fine other than getting off course for about .5 mile. We pedaled through Wisconsin's wooded trails, deep sand, township roads, a bit of pavement, and way too many ATV trails. The loose sand and deep ruts on the ATV trails provided challenges which I did not anticipate. Eventually Chris found familiar territory from a prior event and forged ahead. I fatigued physically and mentally as I neglected to maintain the basics of nutrition and hydration. After realizing and tending to these basic needs while giving my body time to incorporate the intake, I was able to move forward with greater energy and determination. My attitude and gratitude improved, as well. The dozen miles to the finish were flat. Darkness again became reality. I was growing colder (temperature upper 30s) and  more determined to get to Webster. Suddenly my headlight shut off. Usually it provides a 5 minute warning. Stopping was immediately necessary. Using the flashlight function on my cell phone I swapped headlights with cold fingers. Yup, I packed a fully charged spare! This light had a narrow beam which limited my peripheral vision. The white beam of focused light became mesmerizing. Finally the ambient light of Webster, as well as two people waving glow sticks snapped my hypnosis. Crossing the finish after 14+ hours of pedaling and pushing was a great relief. I was deeply chilled. Sentences were not crisp nor concise. Ending the day I endured, discovered, and gained insight. It always seems to happen!  
Ryan's photo skills!

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