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The Long and Boring Road

Sheila Ascroft

I love cycling but sometimes it is boring. There, I said it. Boring with a capital B. Cycling an ever-so-straight road can be tedious, a mental slog as much as a physical. Let’s not even talk about biking into a headwind.

There’s nothing to see but endless fields of corn or soybean or whatever. No windrows, no bridges, no glimpses of glittering water, not even a small curve or slight incline. Nothing. Just the same flat, straight vista for miles. There’s nothing to inhale either like fresh-cut hay or even the distinct aroma of dead skunk.

At high noon, the birds have sought out shade and rest their singing voices. The insects have gone to lunch too as there are no annoying buzzing in the hot air.

Why keep going? Well, it will be just as tedious to backtrack and besides, there must be a reason why you are out there. Sometimes it is not the journey but the destination! Maybe that pristine swimming spot is just a bit further down the road or the next rest stop in your event or maybe it simply means you can achieve a certain mileage. Whatever, keep going.

How do you keep cycling?

Disassociate. Yes, forget about the pedalling and imagine yourself doing something else that’s cool and refreshing. Or being with a friend on one of those joy rides that will probably never come again. Or inspiring stuff like seniors who cycled across the country.

Practice technique. Focus on your pedalling by counting 10 hard down strokes on the right pedal while you deliberately pull up on the left. Then switch sides. Then try both legs together. You’ll see how much faster good technique yields. Or pick an easy gear and do some one-leg pedal strokes. Then Switch. Practice riding no hands – if the road is that straight and empty, then it is safe to practice.

Stretch. Different body parts need different attention. Do some gentle head rolls to ease the stiff neck. Look up, down and all around. Change your hand positions and see how it reduces the tinglies or even affects your speed. Unclip from the right pedal and rotate your foot or stretch the leg out straight. Do the other leg. Stand on the pedals, which gets you off your butt and coast. Take a stroke or two and do it again. Move your butt to the rear and stretch out your back. Keep pedalling but sit up straight, keep one hand on the bar, swing the other arm in circles, reach up and then down your back. Do whatever else comes to mind to relax the body.

Remember. You chose to be out cycling this road. This is why you endured all those winter spinning classes where you went nowhere. This is YOUR time, so relax and be glad that you are physically able to bike.

Stop. Take a few moments to eat or drink and let the body have a quick rest. Think about finishing. Start riding again.

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