Friday, July 16, 2010

Day 26: Chamberlain, SD, to Mitchell, SD

Today's Mileage: 71
Average Speed: 17.1 mph
Max Speed: 28.4 mph
Average BPM: 130
Max BPM: 171
Calories Burned: 1592
Moving Time: 4:12
Blog & Ride Details

I rode the last 15 miles to Mitchell, South Dakota, with The Swiss Train and Jeff (ABB staff). I think I can finally say that I have hammered. The Swiss Train is Bruno and Daniel, buddies from Switzerland that I rarely see during the day. When I do see them, it's usually flashes of smiles and waves of hands and then dust. Today, as they passed with Margot in their paceline, I asked Daniel if I could hop on. I tried my best, counting down the miles, striving to convince myself that I could hang on for just one more mile.

I've heard one or two people on this tour pass subtle judgment on those who try to cycle fast or try to keep pace with the better, more experienced cyclists. Of course, I don't actually know if - nor am I even assuming that - I am one of whom this judgment has been made  - particularly with regard to the latter of chasing the faster cyclists. But I am finding personal fulfillment in using some of my days on this tour to push myself to cycle as well as the more talented riders. We have the privilege of getting to know them out here. Why not take advantage of studying their form and drawing on their expertise?

I can understand why competitive and non-competitive egos can rub each other the wrong way on a tour like this. This isn't the Tour de France after all; it's not like there are any legitimate bragging rights for being the fastest cyclist on America By Bicycle's 2010 Across America North tour. Who would you tell who cared anyway? But I see absolutely no shame in setting new goals for yourself and pushing yourself to be better. It reminds me of a poem by Marianne Williamson that was used by Nelson Mandela in one of his famous speeches:

"Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won't feel insecure around you."

Ever a source of wisdom, my roommate Beth is always telling people, "Just ride your ride. Whatever it may be that day."

So charge after those high pacers if you want to, my darlings, charge! Or take your time if that's your goal for the day, my dears, take your time! Or leave early and race yourself for your personal best, my sweeties, race yourself!

It's your ride.

However, I was so relieved as The Swiss Train rolled into Mitchell; my legs were nearly gone. As pleased as I was to achieve my goal, I was also a little embarrassed that I didn't pull since I'm learning that it's bad etiquette to "suck [someone else's] wheel" without putting in any work toward the overall benefit of the line. The guys reassured me that I did a good job for my "first ride on The Swiss Train". I took that and thanked them for a great ride.

I had interesting and enlightening conversations with Margot and Margo earlier in the morning along rolling backroads in South Dakota. The first conversation with Margot revolved a lot around career, love, marriage, children and life expectations. The feelings she had when she was my age are a lot like the ones I am having now. It is always reassuring to know that others have felt like you at one time or another and eventually found their way.

As we crested a hill, I was glancing at Margot, who was mid-sentence, and caught a glimpse of Rick over her shoulder, overtaking us and crouched in a racer's tuck, preparing to pick up speed and coast the descent. He was looking straight ahead with an open-mouthed grin on his face. Pure bliss. Click. Mental snapshot. I added it to the montage of memories I'm creating on this trip right behind the image of Carl yelling "on your left" and pulling his first paceline with a huge smile on his face.

A few miles later, Margo and I chatted briefly about preparing for a cycling tour like this one. We all did what we could do to prepare with the resources and time we had available. I knew I was physically ill-prepared for this tour when I arrived in Astoria, Oregon - as were a few others - but I kind of have a mantra about not letting fear of failure stop me from pursuing goals. It goes back to those few, subtle judgements I've heard about those who try to keep up with the faster cyclists. Why not try? What's the worst that could happen? That you fall off their pace? That you can't keep up? So what?

I have a bit of an "if not now, when?" attitude about a lot of things and often think that if I wait until I'm ready to do everything I might never do anything. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule, but Margo nodded and said, "You know that saying? Anything worth doing is worth doing badly."

It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Teddy Roosevelt:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust & sweat & blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again & again, because there is no effort without error & shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold & timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

At Nike, they said the same thing, only shorter: "Just do it."

If your best is badly, do it anyway and have a ball.

And it wouldn't have been a [corn]ball out here without a stop at the World's Only Corn Palace.

More images from Chamberlain to Mitchell:

Click here to view my entire photo album of Day 26 [TBA].

The Ride Leader's Official Report:
Across America North:


Monique D. said...

The sign that says "2010", is that done with corn??

Katie said...

Indeed. It's a palace constructed of corn.