2016 BTUSFMS #8 – The Seduction of Perception

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August 14, 2016

Today was going to be an easy day. Just a 47-mile ride from Florence to Coos Bay, Oregon. After the 77 miles we did yesterday, we knew we’d be cruising. Our support van wasn’t even breaking camp till 9:00 am—an hour later than usual.

But for those of us in the group in our sixties, we still wake up early, so we met for breakfast at The Little Brown Hen Cafe for a leisurely Sunday morning meal instead of the typical energy bar and banana or bowl of instant oatmeal.

Perception can be a tricky thing.

Just out of Coos Bay we hit a modest climb that felt more challenging than it should. There were several points along the day’s ride where my riding buddy, Rick, or I felt labored in the saddle. At the top of one climb, Rick asked me to spin his front wheel to see if his brakes were rubbing. At the base of the day’s one big climb, I had to fight against a feeling that wasn’t physical lethargy, but rather a mental ambivalence. I wasn’t sure if I could make the climb without extraordinary effort—even though, according to the map, it was significantly lower in elevation gain than others I have done many times. I had to consciously recalibrate my thinking to stay focused on my cadence, on each pedal stroke, rather than the distant top of the climb.

It worked. I did reach the top, with effort, but without extraordinary difficulty. But it was a wake up call. To be dismissive or overly casual about any day’s journey opens us to unnecessary challenges. It can also cause us to overlook the quiet miracles whispering on the edges of awareness because we’re only watching for the dramatic moments.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I have a feeling it will be perfect.

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