My commute gets me biking a fair distance everyday (~24km) and with more riding around the city on top of that, I think my fitness level is in good standing for the trip. Still, training seems like a good idea. Not just to make sure my body (aka. my butt) is okay with 60, 70, or 80km a day but for mental training too.
Over the year my ride to and from work has become routine. It’s a rhythm up and down hills and swerving ’round potholes. I know exactly when to use my energy, and when I should save it. When leaving home I don’t think “ugh…early…ride…far” at all. I just go because it’s a habit.
But my experience with the little bike touring I’ve done is that (and this is also something I love about it) you have to deal with the unknown. The unknown is exciting and at the same time can wear you down as uncertain distances start to seem really long and throw you off if you miscalculate your energy usage. A lot of this comes from your head: the strategies you think of and your perception of the ride.
I figured the best mental training would be rides going against the grains of habit. And what stronger habits do I have than those of my pre-work morning rituals? So I decided that one morning I would get up early and bike to Deep Cove before biking to work:
Deep Cove seemed like a good place to go because it’s in the exact opposite direction of work. It requires an extra bridge and the scenery is completely different from that in Richmond. It also has a coffee shop that bakes the most amazing doughnuts known to mankind: Honey Doughnuts and Goodies .
With doughnuts in mind I woke up early and was on a bike a bit after 6am. The streets were quiet and I felt good and happy until I was on the Dollarton Hwy about halfway between Second Narrows Bridge and Deep Cove. The road started going up and down with more up then down and I kept thinking the next intersection would be where the Hwy turns right to end with two quaint shopped-lined blocks and the view you see above. I had to tell myself to chill out and enjoy the ride. To not fret about the expected destination. My mental training.
I made in to Deep Cove within an hour and picked up a dozen + a few more doughnuts to take back to work with me as they taste much better when you can share. Minutes after getting packed, grease stains were already forming on the brown paper bags. Mmm…
The way back to the Second Narrows was much quicker (confirming that the way there had more uphill than down) but the route off the Dollarton Hwy and onto the bridge was not obvious. Again I had to stay calm, stop and think things out. Heavy traffic was zooming by in 5 or 6 directions. But I didn’t have to adopt the anxiousness of the car. I got off my bike and onto the sidewalk, had a look around, and judged that crossing one road, and then another and would lead me to the ramp onto the bridge. It was confusing and unknown but I got on and over the bridge.
It was all smooth after that. I came across a few fun unknowns. One being the sign to the Templeton Park and Pool that reads Templeton Par and Poo. Another being a single block North of William St. called Rose St. that is narrow and quaint and I could imagine a good life there. I arrived at the office, showered and was at my desk by 9:30. Mission completely accomplished. Now I’ll admit that the benefit of mental training with a reward (doughnut) at the end is very questionable. But does it help to say that doughnuts were more of a purpose than a reward? I actually was at my desk but had too much energy to sit down. I wanted to get back on my bike. I can’t wait for the bike ride. Seventeen days and in the meantime, I’ll enjoy my doughnut.