Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Racing the Coyote

I've written a lot about how I try to constantly push myself in my endurance sports.  I try to swim faster, bike for longer, and run harder than before in everything I do.

Every now and again it's important to slow down and enjoy the ride for its own sake, not always using it to push your physical limits.  It helps me to rediscover why I started riding in the first place.

Tuesday morning, my brigade commander (my boss's boss) hosted the first Bikin' with the Brigade Commander ride around Fort Bliss, TX.  He recently got into cycling and is starting a cycling group inside the brigade to train together.

The plan was to meet at 6 am and go for a relatively relaxed group ride together around the post.

I took off early, about 5:15 am, to go for a quick warm up on my own.  It was wonderful out, not too much wind, the sun just trying to peek from below the horizon.  I was pretty much on my own for the ~10 miles I rode around post.

I took a detour along a road I haven't ridden in over a year.  It's only a few miles along, but takes any rider far away from any traffic and into the edge of the desert.  Along the way, I watched as a lone coyote loped easily along side the road, keeping pace with me.  He wasn't running away, but glanced my way and kept a pace just close enough that it felt like we were racing each other down the lonely road.

I met the group a few minutes later, out of breath but relaxed; my muscles warmed up and ready to take off.
Ridin' with the Brigade Commander, ready to go!
We stayed in a close group, with a slow pace that would normally drive me insane.  But today, it was relaxing and left me able to socialize with the other riders as we rolled down the road.

After the intensity of the Death Ride Tour, it was nice to be able to carry on conversations without the overwhelming pressure of the long rides and intense pace.

And still I was looking for the pain, for the challenge.

At one point I suggested to a couple of the other riders that we could take off and ride a certain segment of the route fast, wait for everyone else to catch up at a point down the road.  They had to remind me that we weren't out to ride like that, we were on a cohesion ride, to slow down and enjoy it.  I can't believe I was the one suggesting we take off and push the pace.  But that's what I had to overcome, and I needed the other riders (thanks Joe and Jason) to remind me that it was ok to have fun.
Jason and Jason riding together.
And we did have fun, and there were sprints; fun spontaneous races inside the ride.

Charla started the first one.

We hit a mile long straightaway, cruising along without a concern, when, out of nowhere, Charla comes flying past me at a dead sprint.  Of course, I chased.

Then, we hit a favorite bridge/overpass that's always good for a sprint, and the front riders took off, pushing each other to climb over the top.

The last bridge, someone (way to go Jason) took off way too early, and we tore off after him for a mad dash over the top.

It was a great ride.  We rode casually, relaxed, and spontaneously burst into mad sprints as we felt the need.  I could finally enjoy the ride for the sake of the ride, not worrying about time or pace or place.

As much as I want to always push myself and seek out the limits of my own body's potential, sometimes it's ok to race the coyotes.

 Just make sure no one has a camera handy when you fall over while standing perfectly still after the ride.  Lying underneath your bike is just not cool at all.