Monday, May 14, 2012

Imagine that

It seems that I'm back in the groove now, and managing to maintain a fairly steady ride schedule again.  Looking back into the recent past of three weeks ago, I find it difficult to explain why I was missing so many opportunities to get out and do something (like ride a bicycle maybe).  Motivation is such a tricky thing, involving mood, stress, scheduling, percieved versus actual results, etc.  Realizing that it is such an incredibly complex thing makes me doubt any sort of "motivational" expert right from the start.  How someone can think that they have the methods to overcome all those individual motivational roadblocks is beyond me.

In my twenties and thirties, after spending years making myself lift weights, I found my workout routines lasting for less time and my desire to exercise vanishing.  Then when I started paddling all the time I found it was a mildly good workout for my shoulders and upper body, and I would do it as often as I could.  Now that I've started riding mountain bikes the workout level has skyrocketed.  Since I enjoy it so much it never seems like a chore to get a workout in. 

So it seems obvious to me - if you want to be fit, find an exercise that you actually enjoy.  Not something that you can tolerate, or make yourself do twice a week.  Make it something that you really like, so much that you do it as often as possible.  So much that you'll gladly do other, not-so-fun exercise to make it easier to do the FUN stuff.  Amazingly simple, right?

Hogback Ridge, part of Lake County Metroparks

Actually, I'm afraid that is likely to be WRONG.  That is the kind of thinking that convinces those motivational speaker guys that they should go out and tell other people their brilliant ideas in order to make life perfect.  Upon further consideration it would seem that some people are not ever going to find something physical that they can truly enjoy.  For some people the cost of extended effort, physical fatigue and risk of injury will never be worth the adrenaline and accomplishment of any kind of intense physical activity, be it running, dance, karate, swimming or even mountain biking.  For these people, overcoming this particular motivational roadblock must be even more difficult.  I'd make a lousy motivational speaker I guess, because with only my one insight - I have no answers for the difficult questions.

Looking at my MapMyRide workout sheet for back to the last time I posted 11 days ago, it looks like I had a ride every day except for two, and one of those off days I did three hours of trail work as well as rototilling my Mom's garden.  Those nine ride days included five days of singletrack, and totalled out at around 90 miles.  With the local trails at West Branch State Park finally reopening (actually, reopening early this year), I've been able to head out there a couple of times and get in quick rides when I have only two hours or so of free time.  Plus I also got in a longer ride too, that surprisingly enough didn't even make me feel like I was going to die at the end.  Things bode well for an epic ride day in my near future - if I can just get everything to fall in place so that I can get four or so hours of free time...

A friend of mine from the rail trail.

I'm also back on the regular schedule for trail work.  This weekend we had a nice work day at North Road, maintaining the old trail and pushing on the new. Last weekend Eric and I got in a good day of work down at Beaver Creek, cutting in more bench on the hillside trail above the creek.  It's not exactly fast work, but it is rewarding to see such interesting new trail slowly emerging from the hillside.  We came across a section that was just full of big rocks, jumbled up on top of each other with little actual dirt between them - Eric called it the cannonball farm, and that summarized it nicely.  We took a bit of extra time and fashioned a rock roadway across the section, made of rocks up to about 250 pounds.  This should be a blast to ride, and even a nice surface for walkers.

Eric on the roadway at the cannonball farm.
I got out this evening for just over an hour on the singletrack at West Branch.  I had a great time, and even felt good on the hills.  I'm lucky.  I'm lucky  that though things may be stressful in the rest of my life, riding through the woods can bring me back to earth and put things in perspective.  I'm lucky that something as simple as biking can give me so much.  And I'm really lucky that my one insight into motivation actually applies to me.

Keep on riding folks.

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