Thursday, July 30, 2009

OAB's, Lollipops, and Loops

Cycling, while fun, requires discipline. When logging my miles on the League of Illinois Bicyclist site I am amazed by the number of cyclists whose annual mileage is not yet in triple digits. Surely they all didn't start riding last month. I always comment on this to my wife who tells me not to be so judgemental. (She thinks that most of the things I do are best described with a compound word which contains the word "mental" somewhere in it.) But honestly, why would you even bother to post your annual mileage in July if it was 42?

It's not that I'm addicted to cycling, but I realize that the benefits I hope to achieve will not be seen without a regular, disciplined approach. Like any other activity with value, hit and miss tends to be more miss than hit without a plan (a plan that you actually stick to).

There are varying ways to plan a training route, among them are OAB's (out and back's), Lollipops and Loops. The Loop is the most interesting one for the obvious reason. You start at point A, loop around as far as you'd like to go, wherever you'd like to go, and end up back at point A. You get the most bang for your buck if seeing new vistas is your bailiwick. Lollipops are similar, although not as "discovery rich". You start at point A, ride to point B, loop a small loop back to point B then ride back to point A. Finally, OAB's are what they sound like. You start at point A, ride to point B, then retrace your tracks back to point A. Boring.

Recently, I've been working on the discipline of OAB's. I have never liked them, mostly because once you get to point B, you've already seen all there is to see. Long distance cycling can be boring enough with nothing to listen to, and if you add nothing new to see for the second half of the ride, you can go out of your helmet encased mind. It's hard. For that reason, it's a discipline that I've been working on.

I determine at the start of the training ride either how far I want to ride, or how long (time) I want to ride. After completing half of the distance or time, I turn around and head home. On each ride I find myself strongly irritated by the anticipation of the second half throughout the entire first half. On each return trip I find myself strongly irritated when I see unfamiliar roads that invite me to try them out while I return back on a now familiar road. And on each ride, when I find myself strongly irritated, I tell myself that this is MY ride and I can do what I want. Then I remember that what I want do is to cycle the second half of my life, and to accomplish that I will need to be a disciplined cyclist. Then I continue on the OAB. Irritated, but determined.

Will I become famous, or rich, or ANYTHING for the effort I'm putting into this? Will I cease to be an anonymous piece of driftwood lying abandoned on this endless beach of this life? Will I finally achieve Nirvana, or some inner wholeness, or at least become what all my critics think I should be? Doubt it. But I will keep cycling in a disciplined way as I cycle the second half of my life and that discipline will include OAB's.

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