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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

F.I.T. - A Mantra For 2020

In the moment.

That's not a resolution, but a mindset. That's not a lofty goal to hopefully attain someday in the fuzzy future, but an attitude to carry every day. 

Today. Right now. On this ride.

That's what struck me during my first gravel ride of the year. 

I can be this. Right now. 


A little windy at Wind Cave National Park.

Last weekend, I rode out of Buffalo Gap into Wind Cave National Park on a favorite remote road that actually is on the Black Hills BackBone route. It's a great winter ride because it's out-and-back starting mostly uphill and north bound into prevailing arctic winds. Regardless of the season, I ride past herds of buffalo on this gravel road every ride through Wind Cave. Every single ride.

How many roads guarantee more buffalo than cars?

On this day, the sun shines brightly at 53 degrees as I spin out of the Buffalo Gap Trading Post for my much anticipated first gravel ride of the year. Turning west out of town, however, howling winds rudely greet me, dropping my cadence and speed. Welcome back to gravel, buster.

When a gust of wind lurches my bike a couple of feet off line, the thought of turning back crosses my mind. Hey! Where did that come from? I never have thoughts like that. It's just a little wind.

I slow for a moment, but pedal on. The wind shifts, as it will. I settle into the rhythm of the ride, but that unsettling thought of turning back keeps resurfacing. Where did that come from? That question soon filters down to something different. Why am I out here?

First gravel ride of the year into Wind Cave National Park. Stout winds, hills, rough roads and insight ahead.
The road winds toward that small herd of buffalo in the background. Of course, a curmudgeon or two take the road.

Well, that's not complicated. I'm out to rejoice in the day the Lord has made. That is, to have fun.

That's when I realize that I'm having fun right now. The ambient conditions don't get to decide. My speed and distance don't get to decide. My level of conditioning doesn't even get to decide. I decide to have fun right here, right now.

The wind? I'm sure it will be faster and easier once I turn around for the tailwind cruise back to the Jeep. But more fun? It's fun right now riding directly into it, finding a way to push and pull that crank to turn that gear to move that bike through it. Now, it's uphill, too? Cool. The gravel a little soft? Well, all righty then. 

It's fun to work though something to resolution. It's fun to overcome an obstacle. It's fun to do something you're not sure you can. And as my Dad coached me from a young age, it's always fun to get better. The Best Coach I Ever Had.

As the miles roll by, it's easy to drift into anxious thoughts of future events or negative thoughts of past conditioning now lost. Another time perhaps those thoughts can be channeled to something productive. Right now, on this ride, it's time to stay in the moment. Embrace this moment for all that it is.

As time passes, it takes some work to stay in the moment, resolve challenges and be positive. I think that's where mental toughness comes into play. It's easy to get bogged down in other stuff, but, once again, it's not complicated.

Stay in the Moment. Resolve challenges. Be positive.

In the end, and even during the ride, that all adds up to fun. 

That's why I'm out there.

Remote road gravel in Wind Cave National Park, Black Hills of South Dakota.
One of my favorite stretches of gravel road anywhere. Yes, it's on the Black Hills BackBone route.

Fun + In the moment + Tough  =  F.I.T.

That's my mantra for 2020. See you out there.

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