I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m aiming to ride to Paris in 24 hours next July. In my head it doesn’t sound too bad (220 miles) and I’m training hard and I’ve done more challenging things (when you consider starting points, etc) … but to achieve this goal I have to raise my average speed on a bike to 25kph. If I don’t, we won’t make it in anywhere near 24 hours.
Yesterday I rode with CTC, and whilst I had fun, I found it really quite difficult. It was windy and I was tired from the run the night before and I hadn’t stretched so it was really, really hurting everywhere and I felt so frustrated that I wasn’t better than I am.
My average speed over 67km yesterday was 17kph which is clearly a long way short of the 25kph that I need to achieve.
So I started thinking “You know what, I will never make it. I’ve got all this other stuff to do like hold down a job and do an Masters degree and be a mum and a wife. The odds just don’t look good that I will be able to get to 25kph from where I am now.
It’s just a matter of probability – you wouldn’t put money on me closing this gap and achieving the 25kph. If you said that you doubted that I would ever achieve 25kph for any distance I would probably agree, and certainly hold that as an average for 200+ miles seems ridiculous. I know!
However, I remembered that 3 years ago I was riding a bike with a battery because I didn’t have the physical nor mental capability, nor inclination, to ride a normal bike. And if then you would have said “what’s the odds of you achieving 17kph on a bike?” I would have said “Never!”
But it happened, despite it looking at several points as if it never would.
I couldn’t have predicted it, you wouldn’t have bet on it … it looked so unthinkable
So on the bike ride yesterday I started wondering should I cancel Paris, because what’s the point of working towards something that it’s unlikely I will achieve?
Maybe I could set my goal as something more realistic, such as completing an imperial century. I could just do lots of riding for fun without the big, scary goal. I’d still get better over time, but no pressure.
Still, what good does that do me? Removing the goal just makes it less likely to ever happen. If I keep the goal, I might make it. If I say I’m not going to get to Paris on a bike in 24 hours, that is certainly true.
I’m a person who likes certainty and predictability. I love a black/white or yes/no binary answer. I think many of us do, I think it’s a human trait to seek out predictability as a source of security.
However, I’ve realised that I simply have to accept that I cannot predict the future. I can do everything in my powers to guide the future down a certain road (Champs D’Elysee, preferably!) but I cannot be sure at this point whether I’ll get to Paris or whether I won’t.
Right now, the odds don’t look fantastic in my favour, do they? I’ve got to get from 17kph to 25kph, I have limited training time available, I’m about to take a month out thanks to surgery, and until then my training continues to be disrupted by PMDD episodes.
But remarkable things have happened already and who would have thought that what has developed in the past 18 months ever would have developed that way?
The result is that this goal stays there but I’m not able to say “I will definitely get there” or “I will definitely not”. I am able to say “I’m going to do everything I can to get there, but I don’t know yet if I’ll make it or not, and that’s OK.”
This is really about living in the now. Letting go of what might happen in the future. When I got twisted up in what may or may not happen in 2016, I stopped focussing on the important things I can do now to help 2016 unfold in the way that I want it to.
I’m just doing today everything I can to make today a positive choice, and I will repeat that every day.
After all, from electric bike to 17kph didn’t come about by accident, it developed through a small series of little “now choices”.
In July of this year I rode 77km and held 15kph. A few months later I’m now at 17kph. It’s improved, but it’s not where it needs to be yet. Maybe I won’t make it in time at all, but all I have to work with is a series of NOW choices.
I have to make the most of every single one of those now choices because the past cannot be changed and the future doesn’t exist, so all we really have is the now, so I’m going to work with it to the best of my ability.