The Battle Of Wounded Knee

As I sat looking out the window today, I found myself reflecting on the fact that maybe the darkness isn’t so bad after all: at least then you can’t see the black clouds and all the rain that’s heading your way. Sometimes I ask myself which is worse, the wind or the rain, but in actual fact it’s no contest. I’ll take the rain anytime, all of which fills me with dread for the week ahead. Yes there’s going to be rain but the prospect of a 30mph headwind on the uphill trip home every day this week is pretty daunting.

Another thing that’s been going through my mind these past few days is the likely total of miles by time this project is done. I suspect that’s been kicked off by the 2,000 mile barrier have been breached last weekend, a November target I loosely set for myself back in August without ever thinking it was at all realistic. Having done it of course, and in some pretty inclement conditions too, all things suddenly become possible. When I set off, I’d lived on a diet of 60-90 miles a week for the best part of 18 months and I thought that would remain pretty much par for the course. But I’d reckoned without the competitive spirit that’s always fighting within me. It’s like that old George Bernard Shaw saying about there being two dogs inside your head, one good and the other bad: the one that you feed the most is the one that wins. For me, competition with the past always wins the day unless I make a conscious effort to screw the nut and do what’s actually required for me right now in this moment. I find myself fighting that demon pretty much every day of the week. Yes I want to do the miles: yes I want to do even more miles, but in the back of my mind I know that there’s a limit on how far I can push an old body.

There are just under 160 Life Cycling weeks to go, excluding holidays and sick days (note to self: haven’t had a day off sick since I had appendicitis five years ago – how I need that record to continue) and at the current rate of progress, assuming the body stays willing (or more importantly perhaps, assuming my crocked knee remains willing), I can expect to keep knocking in 125 miles a week for a wee while yet. That’s going to give me just shy of 20,000 miles on top of the 2,100 that are already in the bank. But now that competitive dog in my head has started barking again and wants fed. If I want 25,000 miles, which is more that the circumference of the earth around the equator, then I’m going to need to bag 23,000 miles between now and March 2018, and that works out at just under 150 a week. That’s steep, very steep. But just like in a limited overs match where you just keep the asking rate ticking along until late on, maybe the answer is to just keep on doing what I’m doing and see where I’m placed in a couple of years’ time. There’s another old saying that’s particularly relevant right now and it’s this: I sure as hell can’t finish those miles this week, this month or this year, but I sure as hell could finish my body if I can’t tame that darned competitive dawg.

So tomorrow morning, I can be thankful that I’ll have a tailwind and be able to tap into as little effort as possible to climb the six hills out of Stewarton up to the 77 and onward to Glasgow. 17 more miles and 17 less to do. Then on the return trip, I’ll just take my meteorological medicine, select a lower gear than normal and just keep turning those pedals.

At least I won’t see the rain.

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