Take Pause

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going to fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.   – Eddie Cantor

As a Type-A personality and one who has a high Need for Achievement (as described by David McClelland), I often make things into races and competitions.  The competitions don’t even have to be against or with other people, but simply with myself.  On our rides, I frequently find myself looking at the speed and distance data on my Garmin cycling computer and running the ride statistics through my head to gauge our actual progress and schedule to what we had planned in our overall scheme of timing and progression.

On our first 24-mile leg out of Brownsville on BRAT2, we exceeded 19 mph for our average pace.  It was the fastest leg with the furthest distance that I had completed to that time.  In our next leg, heading north to Premont, Texas, we completed a 15-mile leg with an average speed of just over 20 mph–the first time to top 20 mph for a leg greater than 5 miles..

On BRAT1, I had a strong tailwind on the section between Kermit and Andrews, Texas and nearly completed a five-mile leg at 23 mph, but dropped down to 22.9 average mph rolling up a long hill to meet the support vehicle for a transfer.  It wasn’t until a wonderfully windy day in Nebraska on BRAT4 heading to York that the 23 mph barrier would be broken on a 15-mile leg.  The pace would have undoubtedly been even quicker if we had a smooth shoulder to ride on.  Harsh seams on the concrete shoulder and miles of poorly placed rumble strips dropped our overall speed in the second half of that particular leg.

A 30-mile section of road leading up to Scott City, Kansas on BRAT5 was also a good one for speedy cycling.  On that section, I was able to maintain a 20 mph average for ninety minutes.   That section was similar to a 20 mph average pace on a 50-mile training ride from Ballinger to Abilene in preparation for BRAT4.

Also of constant concern and assessment during our rides is our scheduled arrival time at our overnight lodging each night.  We often have hosts waiting for us to arrive at a prearranged time each day and scheduled meetings with newspaper reporters in cities along the route.  Our arrival in Abilene, Kansas on BRAT4 was arranged and set so that we could meet with the mayor and members of the Chamber of Commerce and at the old train depot.  It was necessary to arrive in Abilene at the pre-determined time.  In my mind, it is very important to keep on schedule and honor the time tables arranged each day along the ride.

It was almost at the end of cycling on the first day of BRAT1 that I had an important realization.  As I struggled to climb Guadalupe Pass to our overnight campsite, I got a glimpse of the view over the wide open Texas landscape from vantage point of the highest point in Texas.  In the middle of the building fatigue in my legs and an elevated heart rate and labored breathing from climbing up the longest and a steepest hill of the ride, I had to take pause (without actually stopping) and appreciate where I was, what my eyes were seeing, and what we were doing.

At various times and spots along our rides, those realizations often strike me.  As one who likes to document the rides with video and pictures, I am able to pull out my camera and record those special times.  While cycling statistics, speed records (high and low), distances covered, and timelines met may be fun to fondly remember, the best parts of the cycling adventures are the landscapes, scenery, wildlife, caring and friendly people, and recognition that we get to do something that few others get to experience in the ways that we do.  The realization of all that together is enough to make one take pause.

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