Why do we do the things we do? What is it that compels us to ride as much as we do, to create seemingly impassable goals, and to work tirelessly over many months to better ourselves?
Sifting through hundreds of emails over the last few days, getting to know some of you through quips and comments, I began to realize how strikingly similar we all are. Each of us has our own reasons for the journey. Some are riding the Assaults for the first time, "just to see if they can do it." Some are riding on behalf of a friend or a loved one who is seriously ill - or a cause like Globalbike, the Vera Bradley Foundation, or the Chem-Way Charitable Crew (as I often do).
Some of us tackle this event for the sheer fun of it - meeting new people, enjoying the beautiful countryside, and basking in the warm sunny weather (hopefully!). Some of us want to beat our old times - set a new Personal Record (which may have been set when we were 20 years younger!); prove to ourselves that, "We've still got it!"
And, I'll bet some of us just ride the Assaults out of habit: Michael Davis (31 times), Richard White (21 times), Tim Sprouse (22 times), Robert Scofield (21 times), Paul Thomas (15 times)... and the list of veterans goes on and on!
But there was a recurring theme in all of the emails I have been getting... regardless of the goal - each of us has a GOAL - this thing in front us, pushing us forward. Preparing and training, reading and learning, reworking our schedules, making sacrifices, we all make choices based on how it will effect our achievement of this goal:
"I saw the brownies on the counter-top all day... but I resisted!"
"[Have to be careful of that] second helping of tortilla soup. Now I have to start building some serious base miles and climbing!"
"I forced myself to ride today, even though I wasn't in the mood..."
"Now I have to start hitting the hills!"
It's the thing that motivates us; a "carrot on a stick," so to speak - off in the distance, but always in front of us, egging us onward. We register now - in February - in order to commit ourselves and our free time to the long term training necessary to get to the finish. It's a test of willpower and of inner-strength - even more than physical strength! It's something that takes months to build up to - so it takes dedication and stubbornness.
We prepare, we practice, and we give up those things that (deep down inside, we know) aren't good for us. We pedal on days where the weather isn't so good, or work didn't go well, or we just don't feel like it...
We push ourselves because that feeling of accomplishment is never disappointing.
The countless hours on the bike add up to something, and that is why we train for the Assaults.
Of course, this still doesn't answer the question, "Why do we ride?" There are marathons out there; triathlons and cliffs to climb. So why have we chosen this, the most excellent sport?
...to be continued...
Although it was written for runners, I found a great deal similarities and useful information in Running: The Sacred Art, and plan to discuss that next time!
(and yes, the forward is written by Kristin Armstrong - Lance's ex-wife).