Overcoming the epic hangover

12 11 2010

Cyclists live for the “epic” ride.

It’s a test of our fitness, our resolve, our capabilities.

It also makes for great stories, endlessly told over beers years on to the point of becoming legends.

But what of the ride after the epic ride?

It never gets any love. It’s rarely the fodder for bar stool braggadocio.

Yet it’s often more difficult than the epic ride that preceded it. At least mentally.

I’ve always suffered a bit of a let down after an epic ride, a sort of cycling hangover.

It was almost three weeks until I got back on the road bike after completing the Fondo. Friday, I took advantage of a rare dry day in November to do a 62 kilometer jaunt out to UBC, almost two full weeks after our epic cobbled adventure in the wind and rain of Flanders.

It's not quite the cobbles of the Kwaremont, but the broken and heaving pavement on the Camosun hill at the eastern edge of UBC make it almost as bumpy.

I like to savor my epic rides, let them roll around in my memories for a while, filling my heart with the glow of their achievement. Getting back on the bike after an epic ride is like hitting the reset button, or reformatting the memory card in your camera, wiping out all those awesome photos you took on your last vacation (presumably you’ve already downloaded them into your computer, or else we’re dealing with a whole other kind of metaphor here).

There’s also something romantic about ending the season with an epic ride, as if every ride through the spring and summer was leading up to that one great cycling experience. And when it’s done, you’ve got the whole winter to bask in it.

Curiously, that’s usually how my cycling season on the road actually does play out, with one big awesome ride sometime in the early fall and then thud, nothing but trail rides after that. Partly it’s to preserve that epic ride, partly it’s the shorter days and lousy weather that usually sets in in early October and doesn’t let up until sometime in March or April.

In fact, today’s ride was the first time I’d been on the road bike in the month of November in six years. Maybe that alone is enough to qualify it as epic…

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