This morning I did something that I have not done in 25 years of riding my bike. I decided yesterday that I would meet the Morning Ride guys at 5.45 am this morning. I haven't been out for a couple of weeks due to wheel/bike/schedule/life/work issues, but on the days I am not riding my bike to work, I would like to be sure to get a ride in and the morning is the best time to ensure that happens. Add in on Tuesdays that I drop my son off at school, which means a slightly later start for me every Tuesday, and it seems like the perfect day to get up at 5 am, ride my bike up Hatch so that I would have the privilege an hour later of watching 20 guys ride away from me up Hatch. Sounds like a good plan, no?
At 5.08 am this morning I woke up and looked at the clock. That is as late as I can get up and still hope to ride the 20+ minutes to join the ride. I was held up by various issues, the biggest being the thick, dense fog that was firmly settled into my brain that would not clear. I checked the outside temperature and noticed that at my elevation on the valley floor there was great visibility but about halfway up the bluff there was a layer of fog similar to that in my brain. No problem, though, so I got dressed a bit warmer to accommodate the cold, moist air, including putting on a light cap that fits under my helmet. Made my way to the basement to check air pressure and roll away.
As I was putting on my shoes I realized my brain was engaging in a round of yes/no. Yes I should ride; no I should not ride. Yes I needed to get in some miles; no I did not feel like going. Yes I would enjoy the ride eventually; no I did not want to go outside. Yes I have riding goals this summer that will be well served by riding; no I wasn't feeling like riding. Yes, the concrete floor did look comfortable for sleeping; no, I hadn't had a cup of coffee yet but could use one. Yes, it was still early enough to go back to sleep; no, that didn't seem like a bad idea at all.
You can see that this was a struggle. Normally I am happy to be getting on my bike, but this morning I could not muster that feeling at all. This was exacerbated by the time, which was looking more like I would be missing the ride start even if I climbed Hatch like a pumped up Marco Pantani (or Vinokurov if you are looking for a more recent example). Nonetheless, I put on my shoes, booties, gloves, pumped up the tires and rolled away from the house.
I have to ride along Highway 195 for about a mile and a half to get to Hatch. My brain was fuzzy and the air was seeming very wet and cold. I was still not enjoying myself, but at least I had stared down the negative thoughts and gotten out there. I was just a bit before Hatch when my brain started to very slowly process something. My thoughts went something like this, although to really get the feeling, pretend that you are reading this the way a 78 rpm record sounded when you put it on 33 1/3 rpm. In other words, like the words are translated through molasses.
Hmmm. Sommmethhhhinnnng is nnnnnoooot quiiiiiite rrrrriiiiight.
Whhhhhyyyyy doooooeeeessss mmmmyyyyy hhhhheeeeaaaad ffffffeeeeeeelllll diiiifffffeeeerrrrrreeeennnnt?
There is more wind on my head, I think, or it feels different, or maybe not.
I wonder if I put a helmet on this morning. No, that can't be right. I never ride without a helmet.
I wonder if I can see my helmet with my eyeballs if I look up. No, maybe not. I wonder if I should feel my head to check for a helmet. Yes, that is what I should do.
What. I don't have a helmet on my head. How can that be. What does that mean. Where is my helmet. Why am I riding down Highway 195 with semi's blowing past me while I have no helmet. Oh right, like a helmet is going to mean jack-squat if one of these 18-wheelers mows me down. But I should have a helmet. I wonder where there is one. I suppose back at home. Why don't I have a helmet. What does this mean.
You can see that these thoughts were moving very slowly in my cranium. I think that normally 1) I wouldn't leave without a helmet and 2) if I managed to do that, I would have an instantaneous "oh crap!?" reaction that would be jolt rather than a slowly dawning realization.
At that point, I started wondering whether this had been a subconscious sabotage of my ride. Part of my brain was saying "ride" but clearly some part of my brain had been putting up a valiant "no ride" fight. "Ride" had won the battle of getting out the door, but clearly "no ride" had won the war.
I turned around at Hatch, feeling a bit naked and vulnerable, and rode slowly back to my house, wondering all the time what had happened and what I should do next.
What I ended up doing was putting my bike back on the wall, taking off my cleats, and going up the the family room to lay down on the couch. Hopefully my head and body will get together for the next ride and I will cover more than 3 miles before 6 am.