Sunday, August 17, 2014

Return of the Double

I'm not much of a writer. I wish I was. Many times I feel compelled to share my thoughts and emotions, hoping that something might be of interest to someone other than myself. But for me, writing is just hard work, harder than riding my bike 200 miles in one day. Which is what I did yesterday.

The 200-mile, one-day ride, officially known by cyclists as a "double-century", has always been my definition of an ultra-marathon ride, and being able to complete one places you in the category of ultra-marathon cyclist.

Four months after breaking the 300-mile cross-Wisconsin record in 2012, I slipped on a small patch of black ice and broke my hip. Because of God's grace, I have been able to ride again, completing rides as long as 145 miles. But that little "ultra-nerve" just kept aggravating me, as I had hoped to someday place myself in the 200-mile category again. Yesterday, God's grace was present once again. Two years after the same weekend I broke the record, I completed my first post-surgery double-century.

But it wasn't without doubt or question. At one point I came so close to calling it quits. At mile 94 I have a flare-up of an old tendon injury, and my back was hurting. Then it started raining and it looked like thunderstorms were on the way. I told my wife, who was crewing, to meet me in another 10 miles and I'll see how I feel and make the decision. And then I remembered that I was not alone in this adventure, that God was right beside me and in complete control of what would happen on this ride. I could only do so much. I knew I had trained well. I had even received some deep tissue therapy earlier in the week to release some painful muscular trigger points. Worrying about failure wasn't going to help, so I realized I needed to hand this over to God. I began to meditate on a favorite Bible verse that I had posted on Facebook early in the morning before heading out for the ride. I was time for me to turn thought into action, to turn frustration into hope, and to let God take over:

"But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."

- Isaiah 40:31

Everything started getting better after that. The skies cleared up. Even my tendon and back pain disappeared. During the last 20 miles or so, I felt like I could do a lot more. It's funny how the body can be trained to the point of feeling stronger at 150 miles than it did at 50. My legs still seem to have that 300-mile memory. Even after I finished, my wife commented how great I looked and still full of energy.

But truthfully, 202 was enough to make me happy.

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