Friday, June 29, 2012

EGADS! Say it isn't true! ....Virginia

Leaving North Carolina, I was in bad shape.  I cannot begin to describe the discomfort and pain that these rascally saddle sores were causing.  Additionally, my knee had shooting pain through it.....  But the worse was the mental flogging I was giving myself for quitting the ride before completing the full fifty.

"Come on!" "The Critic" in my head chided....  "It's only 50 miles!  You wimp.  Couldn't you suck it up for another 12 mile?!"  This ugly dialogue continued as I drove mile after mile into Virginia, so much so that to make myself feel better, I stopped and got a bag of potato chips; I ate the whole thing.  I tried to convince myself that I needed the extra salt, but The Critic wasn't buying it and the criticism began again.

"Stop the presses........."  I thought...  "This self flagellation has to stop...NOW!", and I began to have a stern mental conversation with myself.

Yes, it is true; I did not ride the entire 50 miles.  But that does not mean that the ride was a failure and nor was I.  It simply means I had the sense to know when my body was telling me to slow down.

The last time I did not pay attention to what my body was trying to tell me, I was taken off a ski slope on a rescue sled.  That was in February. I had never been skiing before; on the second day out,  I just didn't feel right.  I felt hung over, but I thought it was my mind playing games with me because I was scared... scared of hanging in the air on the ski lift, scared of falling, scared of going too fast and crashing, scared of getting hurt.  So I ignored all the physical symptoms that were appearing, thinking I was just manufacturing them so I would have an excuse to quit.  I even vomitted, but kept going.  After an hour or two of playing this mental game, my body shut down, and the ski instructor had to call the rescue squad to come get me.  It is very frightening experience to hear the EMS personnel speaking over her walkie talkie saying she had a middle aged woman with a possible stroke. At that point, I couldn't breath and my hands were paralyzed into crab-like appendages.  I couldn't move them at all! Hauled off the mountatin, I ended up in the little hospital hooked up to IV's, oxygen and a heart monitor.  (my Road ID came in handy to get in touch with my travelling companions, and access my medical insurance and medical history)   In turns out, I had severe altitude sickness, which can be fatal.  But I ignored what my body was saying to me, allowing "The Critic" to push me beyond my physical limits.

And here I am doing it again.  My body is clearly telling me to slow down....  it is tired and taking a beating in the heat and in the saddle.  Regardless of the aches and pains, I was up bright and early the next morning to ride my 50 in Virginia.  I did, however, take my condition into consideration and chose to ride the Washington-Old Dominion bike path instead of the steep and challenging Blue Ridge Parkway.

Off I went, pedaling at a high RPM down the pathway.  Since I didn't seem to be getting the mes-sage my body was sending, serendipity stepped in to say her two cents worth--my bike computer would not work. Without it,  I had no way to figure speed, distance or a multitude of other data that I like to monitor as I ride.  Today, I would be riding Virginia naked (OK--all you perverts get your mind out of the gutter)....meaning riding without any instrumentation to record my performance.

EGADS!    Say it isn't true!

Frustrated, I had no alternative but to let go and just ride, unencumbered by having to perform to some standard that I made up.  So I puttered along, spinning at a leisurely pace and explored the neat little colonial towns through which the trail meandered.  I even stopped, had a coffee and people watched in one of the towns.  Eventually, I headed back, saddle sores still complaining, but it was the most enjoyable rides I have had in a long time.

Today, I realized that this trip is not about the miles or riding in all 50 states by a certain deadline.  It is about experiencing the experience...embracing the journey.  The saddle sores, the aching knee, the broken Garmin were a means to this discovery.  With my tunnel vision on completing the task, I was missing the most important part of doing this tour.....just being in the moment and appreciating the journey.  So, while I may still be in pain, I will ride the remainder of this tour for the experience, not something to check off a list.

All sorts of riders on the trail
Built ca 1780, Leesburg, VA
Overpass on the trail
Taken from Blue Ridge Pkwy vista point. Smoke from forest fires is evident.
Old church and cemetery....somewhere in VA
Washington-Old Dominion Trail.  Paved, runs from Purcellville to Washington DC
Original cabin from early settlers
Wayside Inn, Middletown, VA., the oldest continuously run inn in the USA


  1. OMG I didn't know you had that experience on the slopes.
    It's a lesson to us for sure. Luv ya

  2. Good read, again, Sue. I just got back from a ride where this same realization hit in the last few miles. Sometimes the process is the most important part of the journey.