I like riding alone. I like the quiet empty spaces on the road and in my mind, they bring me comfort. A comfort that allows me to struggle in peace without judgement. A struggle that pushes me to my physical limits rather than social limits. My struggle is an internal struggle, one where I have to encourage myself to climb harder than I ever had to in the city. As the doubt comes in, I have to repeat to myself...
"You got this, come on, you're strong, you can do this."
I whisper this to myself as I climb higher and higher, changing short breaths into deeper ones to gain control. These climbs are long, not what I'm used to. These longer rides, higher climbs, put a fear in my mind that won't stay quiet. This mantra is what I used to tell myself when I first started riding in San Francisco and it worked. It hauled me through the longest rides: Point Reyes Loop, the East Coast Greenway, Vermont hills, the Lehigh Greenway in Florida, these experiences left me feeling accomplished and amazed but also with a lot of goals.
Now that I've moved from the city to the country, so far from my comfort, I'm in different level of struggle. Burning legs and lungs remind me that I need these long rides. Not just for physical strength but emotional and mental. These long country roads are where I will chase down my fears, alone, with whispers of "you're strong, you can do this." These climbs, turns, and weather elements seem so daunting in this moment but if I never press on to the other side, I will never know what I may find.