What did you do yesterday?
I was going to get up early and do a Double Metric Century on my bike. That's 200km, or a bit over 120 miles. I've done that distance a bunch of times over the years and It's just about at the limit of what I can readily do on the spur of the moment, by myself, without any preparation. It's doable and "fun", but not something you knock out in a couple of hours and then go about your bidness the next day like nothing happened. At least not for me anymore.
Spur of the moment in this case was realizing on Friday afternoon that my project for Saturday, replacing the waterpump on my wife's Bentley, wasn't happening because the "Bombe de Aqua", as it's called in Spanish, hadn't come in("Bombe de Agua",I really like that. What if we ditch "Waterpump" all together and just go with "Bombe de Agua" from now on?). I figured if I was all casual and did the "Yo Baby, maybe I'll do a ride in the morning before it gets hot..." thing, I could take off and do a nice long ride, be back by mid-afternoon and still get a couple of things done before the "Lovely and Talented" figured out I wasted a whole day screwing around on my bike. But by nine o'clock on Friday evening I was starting to have second thoughts. Guilty thoughts. Winter's coming and there's hardly any firewood thoughts. Once the guilt gets up about ankle deep it takes the fun out of things, and it was sloshing around approximately waist level. So instead of getting up at 5:30 and getting the bike out to go ride a "double", I "slept in" till 6 and hauled out the chainsaw to go spend the day cutting wood instead.
And it was OK. In fact, it actually wasn't that different. Really.
You see, they're pretty similar activities in a lot of ways: A) They take about the same amount of time and effort, 2) I go out in public in some remarkably unbecoming clothes, and D) I get to eat more snacks and drink more Cherry-Limeade that I normally would in a couple of weeks. Oh, and wear some marginally useful safety gear that in the event that something dreadful happens, will simply make me appear to have been a more careful, if no less unfortunate, dope than if I had gone out and done it in my underpants and flip-flops. The equipment's similar too in that there's all sorts of messing around that can be done if you want, changing the spark-plug and touching up the chain on the saw with a file accomplishes about as much as replacing the pads and lubing the chain on your bike. Especially if you don't really know what you're doing and are just copying the Guys that do.
Anyway, I went down the road to the Cemetery where they'd cleared out an old fence row to expand the grounds(it's getting a bit crowded, folks are DYING to get in there you know(!) (I love that joke SO much, I work it in somehow AT LEAST twice a month)) and got started. They ripped everything out with a Dozer and a Track-hoe, pushing all the brush and wire and rocks up into a huge pile to burn this winter when the risks of a fire are lower, and "stacked" the hardwood in another pile for me. It was sort of a mess with 1000 lb. logs jumbled up in a pile 6 feet high and 30 long. A bajillion tons of energy stored up ready to tumble down and mash everything in it's way. It's safe enough if you know the basics, have the tools to move things around without climbing on or under anything, and keep your brain turned on. You can still get hurt but if you're careful you probably wont, even if you do it your whole life. But it could. Sort of like riding your bike.
I only got half the pile cut up into ready to split billets, but every log is on the ground in 10 foot sections, spread out safely and I'll be back over the next couple of weeks to finish cutting it into 24" chunks, then back with Bruce's splitter(I replaced the valve body and fixed the flat tires in exchange for using it on this job) to split it up and get it all ready to haul 2 miles to my house. I'm not exactly sure how much wood is in that pile, I don't do this enough to be an expert but it's easily all we'll need for this winter and most of next if we don't have another horrible one like we did 2 winters ago. Maybe there's more than that. We'll see when it's all split and stacked.
We don't heat just with wood but it saves enough money that it helps make up for me not having gone to Medical School or whatever I gave up to be whatever it is I am. Sometimes I wish I had a job that let me spend my way out of more problems but I don't, and it really only means I do things like cut fire wood and do my own plumbing and car repairs instead of riding my bikes all the time or going Rock Climbing or Golfing like my friends who listened to their Parents and went off to the Dental Mines or the Counting Houses. At least I work indoors now and can go home at the end of the day without having to scrub off all the grease or shake the welding slag out of my hair anymore.
I spent enough years doing donkey work that spending a Saturday cutting wood doesn't seem like a hardship. But it does to some of my friends that I ride bikes all over creation with, just like spending a whole day riding a bike sounds like a daunting challenge to some of my friends that spend their days hanging sheetrock or roofing houses. Jobs that are just plain hard that they just do, getting used to and getting satisfaction from doing well in a way that should let them see that a hundred miles on a bike isn't anything you have to "train" for, you just have to want or need to do it and go out with the minimum of appropriate gear. And realize you're going to be sore and a little uncomfortable till you've done it a bit and learned the tricks.
Just like what they do most other days.
Most jobs are like that too I suppose, I worked on a geological drill for an Engineering Company for a while, really long days doing crazy hard work out in the boonies. It was absolutely the hardest work I'd ever had to do but after a couple of weeks it was just my job. A 10 hour day made you tired and a 14 hour day made you REALLY tired but you still got in the truck the next time feeling like you could do another day. It was a lot like how I felt after doing 200 Miles in a day back when I was a few years younger. But the drilling job was at a point in my life where I wasn't riding bikes anymore, and when some of my old Racing Buddies tried to get me to go do a 100mile ride with them I begged off saying I couldn't get away, but inside I was thinking to myself there was no way I could ride a bike that far anymore. I think I was 31. One of them told me later he was thinking "I can't understand how he can do that job, I never could", about my drilling gig. But he survived a Residency where he had to do 72 hour shifts in an Intensive Care Unit. It seems funny now.
I know some people would read this and say "Duh." And I guess it is sort of self evident to most people, but like a bunch of things that many of us learn when we're 15 in Marching Band or Girl Scouts or in the Gym, others of us learn it later, and I'm one of them. Some of this didn't sink in till I was way too old for Girl Scouts, I would have had more fun if when I decided to quit pretending to be a Bike Racer, I would have just kept riding because I loved it, and not wandered off and done all my sweating in welding shops and the cabs of stinking diesels, giving up on things that just seemed too hard and going off to do just as difficult things because I didn't realize I could choose. Oh well, I finally learned some of that stuff. I'm glad I did because it made what I did yesterday feel as satisfying as what I had to postpone, and it's why it's going to be so nice in a week or two when I do get up early and go blow a whole Saturday out on my bike.
I wish ya'll could come too, it's going to be great...