It’s been a while.

I’ve been…not exactly busy, in the traditional sense, but I haven’t had both the energy and motivation to sit down here for a bit.

I often find myself feeling overly busy when my schedule actually isn’t all that full.  Instead, it’s my mind that is overly busy.  My thoughts get all tangled up and stressed and I feel totally overbooked, and actually, I haven’t been out of the house for days.  This is how I experience stress, apparently.

I’ve definitely been stressed out lately, and my stress levels were not helped by the nearing of a planned bike tour.  I was, in fact, seriously thinking of bailing out of the ride because I felt like I didn’t have the time, nor the money, to just take off for three days of riding.  I ended up going, though, because after thinking about it for a bit, I realized that the ride would do my mental health some serious good, and quite frankly, most of the cost of the trip was food, which I would have been spending anyway.

We took Amtrak to Fairfield, and then rode to Lake Barryessa, which is a lovely and hilly spot in the coastal range of CA.  We camped there, and had an epic battle against the local raccoons, which I found hilarious.  The campground itself was quite pretty, though I’m grateful it wasn’t very full, as the camping spots were mostly right on top of eachother.

The second day was to be our longest mileage day.  It also, as it turned out, was the most hilly ride I’ve ever done.  It was along a back road from Barryessa to Clear Lake, and the route was beautiful.  I spent most of the morning enjoying the feel of my body working, and the view.  We saw very little traffic until we got to Clear Lake where we stopped to resupply at a local grocery store.  After that, the rest of our ride was on highway.  Thankfully, the highway had a wide, nicely paved shoulder.

Our ride continued until well after dark, and I found myself dropping into an almost meditative state of “just keep moving”.  Ultimately, the ride was brutal.  We pushed on long past where I would have chosen to stop for the day because we actually had hotel reservations, so I pushed myself much more than I usual do.  I became very present in the moment, as any expectation on when the ride would end was not helpful (I didn’t actually know where we were vs. where we were ending, and had no way to tell).  I had a moment of elation when we finally turned off the highway onto the side road for our destination, but it was quickly crushed when I realized the road itself was unpaved.  Ew.

It turned out that the unpaved road wasn’t that bad; some of the pavement during our morning ride was actually worse.  It did just keep going, though.  I felt like I could just keep chugging on forever, and I eventually stopped even thinking about weather or not I would like to.  I have to wonder if this is what people mean when they talk about a runner’s high.  Given how long it took me to get there, nearly 10 hours in the saddle, it’s no wonder that I’ve never experienced such a thing if it is.

When we finally made it to our destination, my body felt surreal, like it wasn’t mine anymore, and my mind felt like blank slate.  I had no expectations, no desires.  It was quite weird, and it’s the closest I’ve ever been to what I think of as a deep meditative state.  !0 hours is the longest I have ever been in the saddle, though it wasn’t the longest ride I’d ever done before.  It was, by far, the most challenging day I’ve ever had, and it felt wonderful.

Sunday was roughly the same mileage, maybe three or four miles difference, and we did it in under six hours.  We were flying.  It was completely glorious to be able to just sail through the day.  We rode in a pace line, drafting off of eachother and taking turns “pushing”, or being the person in front, and it felt like we were building something beautiful, a piece of art or music.  Bicycles are wonderfully efficient machines, but a pace like makes them even more efficient; it’s the same principal as ducks flying in a V to help eachother.  The route was almost entirely downhill, and the last 20 miles or so were flat, so it was just a matter of dealing with wind.

Bye the time we made it to Davis, our ultimate destination, I felt elated.  Sunday was very much like being on a 6 hour long roller coaster, and it left me feeling powerful and able to tackle anything.  …after dinner.

All told, the tour was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, a little more so because I wasn’t expecting it to be.  I spent a good bit of Saturday wondering if I actually *could* do it, and ultimately pushed through and finished feeling like I could have done more if I’d needed to. Sunday returned my faith in my own competence, and graced me with the exhilarating experience of working as part of a team to be better than I could be alone.  It was by far one of the prettiest tours I’ve ever done, and it was supremely satisfying.

I feel more clarity now, and much less stress.  The physical challenge was a pleasant metaphor for the mental challenge of my life and business, and I have now conquered the metaphor, so I feel much more ready to conquer the real deal.

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