Last August, I attempted the Mount Shasta Summit Century - made it 97 miles and somewhere over 10K in altitude, but mostly got a good dose of humility. In the course of the training, I found that I managed to remove the joy from riding, in that I would beat myself for days I didn't ride, and on the days I did ride beat myself up for not riding hard enough. Basically messed my own mind up.
My dear Bride lost her job in August, due to a back injury in May. That put a significant kink in our lives, but as we have since learned, it has been better: her resting heart rate dropped 20 beats per minute, and her blood pressure dropped about 20 points. Losing the job wasn't the worst thing that could have happened. She's still not back on the bike, but we are hoping she can climb on the trainer in December. Hoping to be able to ride the trainer - does that put things in perspective a bit?
But what really put the "high kiatus" to my riding was having to put down my oldest son's Labrador. The old boy had bone cancer, just like what had taken his 15 year old mom just the past Christmas eve. Probably the hardest day of my life - my youngest son had just arrived from India (a month working with disabled children), and when I picked him up from the airport I couldn't take him and his girlfriend to lunch since we had to head back home to take the dog to the vet for his final visit. That was a funk it was hard to recover from, but picking up our Airedale puppy in Idaho a week later helped rehab me a bit - though having a new puppy kinda cut into riding just because I had to tend to the puppy.
Well, cycling is good again. My wife is off painkillers and muscle relaxants (if you don't count beer). Our Rat Terrier is still the good dog he was when we got him to be with the Lab. And our pup, Major Taylor York, has really proven to be a joy. I find that riding isn't the be-all and end-all of my recreation, but simply an important piece of life as a whole. But it helps balance - and being back on the bike has really helped me find the balance again.
So my goals for the next year of riding have found more realism (I still am aiming for 5000 miles, though). Less obsession. More balance. I still am working to lose weight for the 2013 Shasta ride (goal is 180, down to 205 and losing a pound a week right now), hope to hit an average of 4 days per week commuting, a couple of hard workouts a week on the trainer (Sufferfest), and a resolution to not stress if I don't get on the bike. See, I have to learn to dance this winter so I can dance with the bride at my son's wedding in April, and because I travel a bit I have to be able to let myself spend those important days at home with my dear Bride. I just wish I didn't have to wait until well after 50 to figure out how important just living quality life is.
But it sure is nice to have feet on the ground, at least temporarily, again.
And normal is a term that is used in geometry, because is doesn't exist in life.