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Sunday, 10 July 2016

Why Am I So Tired?

The obvious answer to this question is because I don't sleep enough. In fact, I go to bed late after working on my book and I get up early with the kids and sometimes I spend time in between awake and chasing coyotes. So, I know that I don't sleep enough.

 But I finished a 15-mile bike ride the other day and I was exhausted, as you can see in this picture. By now in my training, 15 miles should be a perfectly acceptable ride. So, what's going on?

When I started this training, Neil Lyon, a member of the community who apart from being a mensch also has a wonderful first name, asked if I had a road bike. I said that I did. Six or so weeks later, I mentioned to him that my suspension had stared squeaking. "You don't have suspension," he said. "I do," I replied. "No, you don't," he retorted. I didn't know what to say, so I took a photo of the suspension on my bicycle. His reply was clear, "You don't have a road bike."

Ah. Sometimes we're divided by a common language. What he calls a road bike, I call a racing bike. What I call a road bike, he called a cyclo-cross bike. When he realized what I had been riding, in typical dramatic fashion he said that he needed to go and lie down because he was so exhausted thinking about how much effort I must put in moving this bike along the road.

I've always ridden mountain bikes and cross-bikes. I have a bad left knee that hurts and suspension ensures that it doesn't. It can be so painful that I had to give up my lovely Nissan Almera because the clutch was too heavy on my left knee. Without suspension, I genuinely worry that I'll hurt that knee. So, Neil has offered to try to find me a suitable sized "road bike." I'm not sure, though - I'm used to a bulkier bike for balance. I worry that with a road bike I'll come off and hurt myself

Moreover, I can't help noticing that even on the same bike, my times are getting slower. Time doesn't really matter per se - if you cycle 100 miles then you cycle 100 miles. But, if the times are dropping then that's evidence that I'm getting fitter. But they're not - over the last two weeks they've been getting steadily longer for the same ride. So, it's not necessarily about the bike.

I started to get concerned. Maybe I'm really not going to finish this race. Have I bitten off more than I could chew? Then I remembered something very important from my last (shorter) bike ride - how much easier it was with company.

If you don't know Ben Larzelere, then you're missing out. Ben is a retired Lutheran minister who is loved by very many members of Temple Beth Shalom. He comes to services often, and has been called Rabbi Ben by people for many years, which was slightly confusing for me when I started because the community already had Rabbi Ben Morrow, who is an actual Rabbi. Early in my training, I got in touch with Ben and asked him if he wanted to spend an entire day in interfaith dialogue with me, discussing spirituality, comparative religion, etc. There were provisos, though. It had to be on September 18th in Acoma on bicycles for 100 miles. Having cycled all across the country, Ben agreed.

Last weekend, I cycled 20 miles by myself and came home in 1 hour and 46 minutes, and I was rather pleased with that. That was the longest I had done so far in this training. This morning, though, I asked Ben is he would like to join me for 25 miles. We met at 6am because I had a 9am adult banot mitzvah class. As we cycled away, it became clear that Ben is an accomplished cyclist and that we are extremely well matched in terms of speed - he could go faster but doesn't need to. And I couldn't help but notice how quickly we were going. We followed exactly the same course as last week and completed it exactly ten minutes quicker - in 1 hour and 36 minutes! We added five more miles, which took us an extra 24 minutes, meaning two hours in the saddle. And with an hour to go before the class, I asked if we could add another five. Including the stop for when Ben's chain came off, we came home in exactly 2 hours and 25 minutes. And, most importantly, I wasn't exhausted. If I didn't have a class, I could possibly have gone much further.

Now, I'm starting to believe that I really might finish this race. Thirty miles without real stop in 2h25m and without being exhausted is really good progress. And it goes to show that if you want to face a big challenge, it's better to do it with others. So, how do I stop being so tired? Firstly, go to bed earlier. I get that. But also I need to train more with other people. Lesson well learned.

Next week as well as the usual mid-week rides, I'll be aiming for 35 or 40 miles on Sunday, although I do have an X-Wing tournament later so I shouldn't push it too much. Priorities, after all!

So far, four people have pledged sponsorship, totally $1700 if I complete this challenge. Please consider pledging to help spur me on, by going to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/655G575 and making your pledge. Thank you.

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