I am a bike rider not least. Apart from being a husband, the other major area of my life is being a doctor. Within that, my interests are somewhat divided. Drug addiction, teaching new GP's, mild anxiety/depression and peoples' own health ideas.
Nevertheless, I maintain an interest in physiology as well. Lets go to Merriam Webster - physiology; def'n: a branch of biology that deals with the functions and activities of life or of living matter (as organs, tissues, or cells) and of the physical and chemical phenomena involved.
I managed to go out for a ride today. I have been planning it for a while due to my lack of saddle time recently. The aim, take the 29er with cross tyres and do a mixed route: road and off-road. Make it long. The forecast was good, but the reality wasn't. Rain and a cold westerly. Always adds a soupcon of difficulty to a known route.
One of the things that has led to some contemplation over the last few years is the effect of endurance riding on the mood. I have not been known to be entirely 100% when it comes to this area, which, I suspect, is a reason for my focus. When one commits to a ride that will test the stamina and staying power there is an initial 'tough guy' sensation, followed rapidly by uncertainty and self doubt. Then, as the ride unfolds, one tends to progress to a state of familiarity - as long as you have put in the practice.
Distance unwinds and there is a variance. Depending on how things are going environmentally and physically, one can either feel indomitable or desperate. Eventually, of course, there is the oblivion provided by countless everlasting effort. A unique focus on a single task blended with overcoming exhaustion.
And so it was today. Fairly significant cold ( there was snow on them there hills) always multiplies the difficulties and a six hour route with a fairly significant stress on the way led to a less than perfect beginning.
However, everything unfolded pretty much as above. The difference lies in the fact that it is a while since I have done any similar level of damage. I ended up hypothermic to the degree of constant yawning and numb completely to the wrist and ankle with slowed responses. Thrown into sharp relief, the odd feelings of elation and gratification on finishing and surviving merely act as a entree for the depression that will undoubtedly follow. It always does. There is no particular reason, just a sense of loss.
Slowly and surely, a sense of satisfaction that is profound and many textured will set in and I will no doubt bore those who tend to listen to me about the details of the ride, the mud, and how it was like porridge. The hum of the cross tyres, the swans and the ducks on the flooded river sides. The field of highland coos near Invertrossachs.
The conundrum remains: do you actually enjoy these rides? or is it simply a form of addiction to the idea and the endorphins?