“An athlete who tells you the training is always easy and always fun simply hasn’t been there. Goals can be elusive which makes the difficult journey all the more rewarding.”
— Alberto Salazar, marathon runner
I’m certainly no world-class athlete, but I have an inkling of what Alberto Salazar meant when he suggested that preparing for a “difficult journey” can sometimes be a pain in the ass. Getting in the training miles, day after day, can be a chore and a bore — especially in the blast-furnace heat of a Texas summer.
With that whine out of the way (and today’s ride was pleasant and cool), I can report that I’ve passed the halfway point — 1,500 miles since Jan. 1 — on the way toward a goal of 3,000 training miles before the start of a transcontinental bicycle ride on Sept. 18 in San Diego.
I tell my wife: “It’s no big deal. People do it all the time.” But I guess I have to admit that riding a bicycle 3,160 miles across the United States from California to Florida, hauling on the bike all the requisite gear, is no small undertaking, especially for an old guy like me. I no longer have the young legs, like my friend and neighbor Zack, whose youth and innate fitness allow him to jump onto a track bike, with only one gear, and ride a respectable distance and climb hills with no trouble and no training.
But we older gents have to train, even if it hurts sometimes. Lodged in my brain is a vivid memory from a ride in Colorado. Scrawled in chalk on the pavement near the top of a particularly tough mountain pass — and attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche, or perhaps a gulag survivor — was this exhortative saying: “That which doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger!”