Tuesday, May 11, 2010


sunday morning I rode up dell canyon to the top of big mountain.
(I'm quite excited to be able to make that statement, being finally able to name the canyon which I rode. it's all because I finally noticed a small sign planted at the far side of the parking lot up top of big mountain, a sign warning about the protected, watershed use of Dell Canyon.
ah! susan learns something new! she loves this.)

I had ridden hard the day before during my metric century valley loop, and my legs were determined to remind me of their efforts.
I also was confronted by a headwind at the base of emigration canyon which remained true to itself for the rest of my ride, streaming determinedly from the southeast.

soon into my ride a thought flitted through my mind: my legs are tired. then came another thought: I have a headwind. I took both these thoughts and smiled at them, knowing that they were just trying to help me feel better about the fact that I wasn't storming up the hill. it was all okay. my legs were tired, and the wind was pressing against me.

but soon I realized that those were the only two thoughts in my head. my legs are tired. I have a headwind. my legs are tired. there's a headwind. these two thoughts became a mantra, flowing through my mind as the oxygen level in my bloodstream sunk lower, my heart rate rose, and my brain quick thinking anything but the mantra that flowed and flowed and flowed.

now a mantra is typically a good thing. a chant---a phrase, a few words, a brief statement---that frees one from other thoughts and opens up meditative possibilities. mantras help us reclaim peace, they focus our attention onto the positive.

after about 25 minutes of my legs-are-tired-headwind mantra I finally hit a downhill where my oxygen level returned to normal and I was able to process thoughts again: at this point I realized that my mantra was not a helpful, peaceful, positive one. it may have been truthful, but it wasn't really in my best interest.
so I tried to tweak my mantra.

my tired legs are still powerful. this headwind will soon become a tailwind.
it's okay to be tired. headwinds are good for me.
nothing seemed to have the seductive rhythm of my original chant, and soon I found it creeping back in . . .
I'm riding well today even though my legs are tired and there's a headwind.

soon I started smiling at myself, because as powerful as I think I am, I cannot seem to outsmart my own brain.
when you get that conundrum figured out, please let me know how to do so.

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