A cycling (and running) Odyssey
In the last 11 days I’ve done two long bike rides (137km and 80km) and one long-ish trail race (25km). My BIL Scott was with us for the 137km ride and he mentioned that such a long ride can feel like an Odyssey. His remark really rang true for me. Here are some of the ways I felt like Odysseus in my recent long stretches of exercise.
In Idaho while riding our bikes in the middle of nowhere, where one country road intersected a long country driveway, we ran into a friend of a friend, and then the stepson of my former SIL. It was like a story you would tell when explaining a stereotype about Idaho being a place where everyone knows everyone…except it was true.
We were barked at and chased by dogs. The worst part is that they come out of nowhere, and then you never know if they’re just going to bark or if they’re going to pursue you, or bite you. It felt very much like a test and I never knew if I was going to pass.
On the ride in Idaho Scott went ahead of us for the second half and sent back a text message warning not to take a certain wrong turn. Then we went on and did exactly that. And the wrong turn was uphill for a few miles, of course! Very Sisyphean.
While both running and biking, pain comes and goes in waves, jumping from one body part to another. My arms hurt, until my butt hurt, until my neck was so stiff I couldn’t hardly turn from side to side. This knee hurt, until the other one hurt more, then they felt fine, until they hurt again, worse than before. And all of the above faded when I remembered how I also felt exhausted overall, too, in a general fatigue sense. But even one pit stop off the bike, or one stretch of walking, granted a reprieve and I felt I could keep going.
On the two long bike rides, I listened to the entirety of the Fiasco podcast and relived the 2000 election. Now I have a double set of memories of Bush v. Gore: in 2000, in Provo, Utah, and in 2019, on the roads of SE Idaho and rural Washington County.
At times during such long stretches of exercise, you feel that you will never get home. But you always do. Limping, sore, injured, dehydrated, sunburned, dog-shy, dusty, exhausted, but home.