Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Space to Grow

I remember when we broke up the first time 
Saying, "This is it, I've had enough," 'cause like 
We hadn't seen each other in a month 
When you said you needed space. (What?)

I couldn’t help but think of those words as Frank rode away from me yesterday afternoon, after a fair amount of encouragement from me. It was, of course, a bit over dramatic as we’re nowhere near breaking up as life or riding partners, and it the situation could better be described as “hadn’t ridden together in a week”. After further reflection, that wasn’t even true, since we did our last Tuesday recovery ride together, but last week felt so long that I’d already forgotten. The fact of the matter was that I was just feeling a little guilty that, despite the fact that circumstances already had us riding together less than usual, I still “needed space”.

Frank got a part-time job at the bike shop a few weeks ago, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Obviously the extra income and the discounts are good things, and since he is off from teaching for a couple of months, it will give him something to do while I’m at work. The downside, and the reason that I didn’t encourage him to do this sooner, is that working at a bike shop inevitably means working on weekends.

While under past circumstances that fact might have tipped more heavily into the plus column, as Saturday was my glorious day of “me time”, those were also the circumstances where a couple ride was more of an annual thing and even then was embarked upon with some degree of dread. Having swung in the complete opposite direction for the past two years, I think it just feels odd to for my on-and-off-the-bike-partner and me to be reestablishing our own cycling identities.

A couple that conquers together stays together.

In our relationship, I am the structured, Type-A, goal-oriented one, and he is the laid-back one that just likes bikes: riding them, buying them, selling them, and fixing them. From my perspective, it works out well, and I would hope that he would tell you the same. Two structured, goal-oriented people would likely result in conflicting goals and sacrificing time together in service to the grand plan. I won’t hazard a guess as to the fate of two laid-back people, because it’s too foreign for me to imagine. It might work out just fine.

In the case of Frank and myself, he pretty much goes along with my grand plan and it pushes him to ride and race more than he would on his own. I think that in this process, he’s found more motivation to reach his potential, and I’ve found that he is, in fact, a lot faster than me. We’re still not at the point where I feel like riding with me is holding him back or anything, but sometimes it’s hard to be dragging along suffering when the person you’re with is bopping along like it’s nothing, so I’ve taken to sending him off on his own if I’m not feeling too great. I guess misery only loves company if the company is also miserable.

As I mentioned before, we did do a short recovery ride together on Tuesday, and Wednesday is where we started to diverge. It was my long-scheduled first interval workout with my new power meter, but given the personality differences described above, he didn’t buy one along with me. We met at the Galbraith Gap parking lot after I got off work, and I proceeded with an okay but not great 8 x 30 seconds workout while he completed a climby loop of gravel. Thursday and Friday were our regularly scheduled weight and rest days respectively, and Saturday he worked at the bike shop. Not wanting to waste a nice day and good legs, I proceeded with my breakthrough workout of the week and improving my time on the Rothrock TrailMix short course loop by 13.5 minutes. That left me smashed for Sunday, so I just pedaled around super easy for an hour while I encouraged him to do a bit more on his fresher legs. I hoped to get in a bonus breakthrough workout in during the three-day weekend, but Monday found my legs still trashed. That is when I knew that I would be miserable and not wanting company, and I was proud of him when he decided to go do a big iconic climbing route that he hadn’t done since 2012 on his own. We both ended the day limping home in equally miserable states, but his was a bit better earned than mine.

While I love spending time with him, I’m glad that’s we’re both coming into our own a bit. I hope he never gets to the point that riding with me is a burden, but I love seeing his competitive side come out a bit. I also feel like I’m getting my confidence back by having the time and space to ride my best without worrying about being judged. I’m fully aware that this fear is just my projecting my own self-judgment onto him rather than him being critical, but it seems that being alone in the woods without a projection screen lets me put my energy into going faster instead of feeling bad about my lack of going fast. We’ll always be together at the end of day to tell each other of our adventures and to cheer each other on when the racing finally comes, so it’s probably a good thing for us to get a little space grow. We may even be ready to start seeing other people, at least in the cycling sense. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to replace the Speedway Wheel(wo)men, but I should probably try harder to find some Central PA girls to ride with.

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