This blog has reached that weird intersection of personal and professional. This one’s personal. If you want to continue to think I’m perfect, you should skip it.
AT THE END of 2010, I posted about learning a whole bunch of things that year. Some were things I’d pay not to have learned, but a few were good, like when I figured out that decisions are much easier when you’re resolved to ignore pain.
That’s useful. Right? It helps you make better decisions.
I learned that one on my first 600K brevet, which was also one of my last real rides to date. In early 2011, after DNFing my first 200K of the year by mere minutes, I was out on a training ride in New Jersey, pedaling in an all-out biblical deluge, and I couldn’t see anything. This was partly because of the wrathful downpour, obviously, but it was also because the antiglare coating on my glasses, which I crisped in 2009 because of some extra-clever thinking that would just slow down this narrative, is the very same coating that allows water to bead.
This was in April or something, and as I slowly navigated the roaring shoulders of Route 9W by ears and experience, I understood that I wouldn’t have a 2011 brevet season. There’d been plenty of indications already piling up, but this was the definitive moment: There was no way I could afford new glasses.
Sometimes you can do the unlikely anyway—give it determination and bravado until God relents and smiles. Other times, you’re just not recovered enough from the previous war’s injuries. Having apparently learned to be a graceful loser once in a while, I let go of my brevet season.
AROUND THE SAME time, I was learning to extend my print expertise into ebooks, which are not straightforward to execute well. (Dear ebook do-it-yourself loudmouth proselytizers: Good for you. Shut up.) My first few clients were mystery writers I’ve known for a while. Unexpectedly, the ebooks brought me more print work; and more unexpectedly, socializing on Twitter—mostly about bicycles—brought me more of both.
As it turned out, I spent most of 2011 building a profitable business—and simultaneously losing all my 2010 fitness.
Like, all of it.
So here’s the obvious thing I learned this year:
Sometimes you can’t do two things.
YES, MY REPUTATION as a genius is well-deserved.
MY DAD WATCHED sports, and the whole family once went through a blessedly brief Chicken Fat phase. Unless you count my not paying attention to a short run of Little League games I was allegedly in, I don’t come from athletic people. I came to randonneuring not as someone experienced in physical pursuits and looking to step crosswise into a new one, but as someone who found himself mounting an unfamiliar staircase toward the whole general idea. My six-mile bike commute made me think the Five-Boro Bike Tour might be possible; the Five-Boro made the Harlem Valley 50 not unthinkable; the 50 meant maybe I could finish a century. Then the rest-stop food extravaganzas and arrows painted on the street got kind of old, so what else was out there?
On a recent training ride (not a long one; I’m not back up to significant mileage yet), I had the second half of what was, apparently, only a partial epiphany on that 600K. I realized that while the ability to accept pain is useful, to really get somewhere, you need to enjoy suffering outright.
Which, it turns out, you can decide to do. You don’t just have to be a natural masochist.
So “enjoy suffering” is my 2012 resolution. I’ve never made one before.
I’m still overweight from a year of sitting on a bed with a laptop and eating buckets of horrendous crap on all-nighters, but there are some little bulgy quads in the tops of these legs again, and I didn’t gasp much on Next Day Hill this weekend.
I seem to accomplish more when I go into things saying We’ll see than when I pound my chest and declaim, so: Hopefully by April, I can be doing two things.
I will not discuss three at this time.