Do. Or do not. There is no try.
— Master Yoda.
It’s been about a week since I heard that I’d scored a slot for version 9 of Trans-Iowa. In that time, I’ve cycled a bit, pondered bike setup and gear choices, done some core work, and tried to cut down on the beer.
But mostly what I’ve been doing is dealing with a randomly recurring mental state, one that bubbles up from the depths of my mind, and can be most accurately characterized as “holy shit, what I have done?!?” or something like. It appears when I least expect it, and sometimes stops me cold, no matter what I’m doing.
Learning how to deal with this mental state–and all of the ones that spin out from it–is just another part of the training for something, like Trans-Iowa, that’s rather longer and harder than anything that I’ve done for a very long time. And perhaps it’s the most important part. Legs and lungs are easy to train, especially after all these years in the saddle. Once started, my legs will keep turning the pedals, as long as my mind doesn’t make them stop.
I don’t doubt that it will try, and often. It will try before the race even starts, especially if the weather’s bad. It will try as I start to get warmed up in the first hour, while riding in the dark on unfamiliar roads while the faster riders steam on ahead. It will try when the B roads turn into unrideable bogs. It will try when I reach a checkpoint or a town. It will try when I find food and warmth in a convenience store. It will try when I’m tired and sleepy and hungry at 1am and it will try again in the dark watches of the night, just before dawn. It will try when I’ve been pedaling for more than a day and I turn into a stiff headwind.
It will try and try and try.
But I know the secret. That’s why I’ll be playing out all of these situations in my mind, and while I’m out on the road and trail in the months to come. These things can’t be ignored. Instead, you have to get to know them. Invite them in for a drink — and then get them drunk so that they pass out in the corner and leave you alone. And do it over and over again, until there’s no more riding to do.
It can try all it wants. I’m going with Do.