cycling truths

Cycling Truths #4

When it comes to pain and suffering you have a selective memory

Any cyclist who likes to challenge themselves from time to time will occasionally have one of those rides which ends with genuine and heartfelt promises of ‘never again’. As you planned your ride from the comfort of your settee, the altitude gain and the mileage seemed like a good idea but mid-ride, half-way up some brutal Alpine climb, you begin to question your sanity.

Contador - pain, what pain? (Photo: Green-eyed girl - Wikimedia CC)
Contador – pain, what pain?
(Photo: Green-eyed girl – Wikimedia CC)

Every cell in your body is screaming at you to stop pedalling, but you have long since over-ridden all the sensible advice which your brain is dishing out. By now you’re seeing stars and feeling sick with effort, and when you finally reach your destination and you peel your aching frame from the bike you feel so bad you are seriously, genuinely questioning whether cycling is the sport for you. 

You certainly want to steer well clear of bikes (or even climbing stairs, for that matter) for a good few days and assess your options; option one being to sell the bike and find a sedentary hobby, option two being to keep the bike but be kind to yourself and stop riding up so many hills. There is currently no option three.

But then two or three days pass by, and you start to mellow. What were once visceral memories of searing pain have softened at the edges and become a hard day on the bike, but enjoyable, in a strange way. Give it another couple of days and you will be wheeling out this day of misery in the form of a mildly amusing anecdote, and entertaining your friends with tales of a stoical and mildly comic struggle.

Inevitably, option 3 appears; start planning your next adventure, this time with more altitude and steeper climbs. You now have no accurate memory of just how bad it felt last time, and so the pain and suffering is about to begin afresh. 

Mid ride, you are imploring your brain, “don’t let me do this again…it hurts!” Your brain, in response, is thinking, “yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s fine…it’s just a bike ride”.

And so the cycle continues. 


5 comments on “Cycling Truths #4

  1. Oh so many times I have over stepped my bounds on this one. Can you say Death Ride! just wee little ride of 200k and 15k of climbing at altitude to boot. After the first time riding this ride I vowed never to do it again and 3 days later I too forgot all the pain and was in for the next years ride. This year will be my third in a row for me. We always forget how much it hurts…


  2. Exactly! Except that part about selling the bike… It takes me twenty minutes to complete the cycle too. As soon as that seized up shoulder pain relaxes a bit…


  3. The memory of the last 10-15 miles always stays, but the other memory of the rest makes it well worthwhile. Now if I could just get an armchair saddle?


  4. Chikashi

    Haha! True, that!


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