I’ve been plodding along over here in my corner of the world continuing to train for the Lake Taupo Challenge. There have been some long rides, some of them quite tough, but I have framed them in what I describe as “ordinary living” as there are people all over the world doing long tough rides, day in and day out, simply because it is part of what makes up life. The more I’ve continued to blog and think about “being epic” on the way to fifty, the more “ordinary” I begin to realise my life is. This observation isn’t to lament that I’m not good enough, but rather to reframe the idea of what a well lived life is. In the area of sport and fitness, my goals are to experience as much as I can with what I already have.
I recently picked up a textbook called the “Psychology of Champions” which states that only the most gifted athletes aim for mastery, competence and to push the limits and that ordinary athletes are more concerned with what other people think of them, rather than rising up to a challenge. I’d like to call that particular statement a complete load of rubbish. Throughout my life, I have been witness to everyday people doing extraordinary things whilst pushing their own personal boundaries, whether it be to run a marathon, lift scarily heavy weights or race bikes.
For me, the daily ritual of training and refining my ‘craft’ is but one reason that I continue to try and reach my best potential, even though that falls way short of elite standards. “Doing the work” in preparing for an event is not always easy, not always fun, sometimes it’s a bit mundane, but ultimately, it’s always satisfying. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago doing a long hilly ride known as the Fernvale Loop. The route was hot, hilly and the bitumen unforgiving – and it’s at these times that I stare down the relationship that my mental health has with riding a bike and doing the work. It’s been written about in a more eloquent fashion than I’m doing here, but there’s something about a hard ride where you start off with raging storms invading every corner of your mind and subsequently finishing like a limp rag, utterly spent physically and mentally. To paraphrase Dr Seuss, I have spent many rides “thinking all the thinks I could possibly think”.
At the end of this ride, I was thinking of the many riders that would have hopped on their bike, partaken in a long training ride, ruminated about life and felt better for all the “thinks” they had along the way and felt good that I have a legion of mostly unknown kindred spirits doing the same thing week in and week out.
However, I’m not alone. A few girls from our riding group are doing L’Etape Jindabyne, which is held the weekend after the Taupo Challenge. I’m going to fly from New Zealand to meet them and take part in the 170km challenge. We’ve been enduring some long, hard, not to mention, steep, rides together and it’s been great fun encouraging each other to kick our various goals, which have included some very steep climbing practice. Ouch!
This week brings up one more hard week of preparing for my ride around the lake. I’m looking forward to heading overseas again and visiting New Zealand. Looking forward to keeping it “ordinary” and celebrating the ride with the thousands of others that are lining up for the challenge!