Can you write your way to the ride you want? To a certain extent, I think you can.
Throughout my time randonneuring, I have gone through different phases. My primary goal during my first series of riding brevets was to finish within the time limits. This was also a time of intense learning about fueling and fitness, melding as a tandem team with Felkerino, as well as getting to know the randonneuring community.
After starting this blog in June 2010, whenever I planned a ride I also imagined myself writing a story about it. This awareness helped expose negative and energy-wasting elements that had intruded into my riding.
In those initial years of riding long, I developed a level of understanding of my body with regard to the brevets over a few seasons of randonneuring. I figured out how to get myself around a course without too much drama, but I realized that at some point I had started to fret about my “place” in the randonneuring community.
I worried I was not measuring up, not doing as well as I should, that I was perhaps even a randonneur poseur. This self-defeating attitude began to permeate my ride experiences.
The inception of this blog and the idea that the ride would also include or result in a story became another way for me to visualize and anticipate my ride experience prior to it actually taking place.
I did not want a brevet to be overtaken with how I perceived I was doing relative to everyone else, and wondering if I did not measure up because I wasn’t as fast as so-and-so or wasn’t riding as much as so-and-so. I know this may sound silly to all of you, but I’m telling you, I wasted time pondering these things and my blog ride reports really helped me refocus.
Brevets are one of the ways that I spend my leisure time, and I do not want my leisure time to be a big puddle of negative. My aim is a net enjoyable experience. Isn’t that part of why it’s called leisure time?
Unnecessary self-flagellation over things I had no control of was not part of my desired story or experience. I wanted to explore the beauty of being outdoors, and the positive and interesting interactions with people on the ride and at the controls. I wanted my story to capture the moments Felkerino and I shared. I wanted it to embrace the sensations of riding a bike for miles and miles from sunrise to sunset (and then some), and to show what it’s like to work through whatever unexpected challenges a ride presents.
When I visualized my ride stories with these elements, I began to take note of them during brevets. My experiences became less tentative and I savored rides in a new way. I also renewed my appreciation for the life circumstances that have allowed me to participate in randonneuring events over the years.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t include negative or uncomfortable things that happen along the way. Nor does it mean that I paint an overly rosy picture about a ride.
However, this process has brought me much more in tune with the positive parts of rides. I now commit to the best day I can have on a bike whenever my feet clip in for a ride. I see it reflected in my stories. I’m writing my way to the ride I want.