Long Term vs. Short Term

      Last Thursday, because I am training for my big hike in July and August, and also because I resent the weather dictating what I can do or how I should live, I rode twenty-five miles on my bike. It was very hot. But I was careful. I kept my effort well below maximum, never felt lightheaded or dehydrated, and I drained two large water bottles laced with electrolyte replacement during the ride.

      I went inside, cooled off with a bowl of Blue Bell Cookies-and-Cream, and soon felt wonderful. It was my birthday eve, I was turning 61 the next day, I had just ridden an hour-and-a-half in brutally hot weather, and yet I was feeling good, if slightly dull, and ready to take on the next challenge of the day. I was a mighty warrior. I was quite proud of myself.

      Then I took a quick recovery nap in my big brown chair and felt even better.

      Later that evening I met Cyndi at Jason’s Deli after her last yoga class of the day (she taught four classes and attended two more, the life of a business owner), and she said, “I came home this afternoon and you were riding your bike. I did some chores, then went back to the studio and you still weren’t back home.”

       “I was fine. I made it back home. It was a good ride.”

      She smiled sweetly while staring through eyes I’ve learned to recognize after 38 years of marriage as warning sirens, and said, “Your first goal for the hike is to make it to the starting line healthy and injury-free.”

      She was repeating a mantra we’d both used often back when we were training for marathons. It doesn’t matter how hard you train if you’re too hurt to make it to the starting line. Cyndi trumped all my excuses and explanations for riding in the heat with logic.

      In a poorly-thought-out attempt to show I hadn’t been completely foolhardy I pulled out my phone and keyed up the Cyclemeter app that I use to measure and document my rides. “At least it wasn’t 100* when I rode,” I said. “We didn’t hit the high temperature of the day, 103*, until after I was long finished.”

      But when I showed my ride statistics to Cyndi she noticed it recorded a temperature of 99*. At least it wasn’t 100*, but not enough under the mark to help my case.

      I said, “If it helps, I’m not planning to ride tomorrow. It’s supposed to be even hotter, 105* way too hot for cycling.”

      “When are you doing your birthday ride?” She knew I was planning to ride at least 61 miles in honor of my new age.

      “Not until Saturday morning. The high for Saturday is only 83*.”

      “You might need to break out your long sleeves.”

      The thing is, planning for long term success (such as completing my summer hike) is hard to do at the expense of short term goals (like cycling lots of miles). Staying healthy to the starting line seems too abstract when compared to doing something useful today.

      And I’ve been working on this hike, and by that I mean seriously planning and studying, since January 2016, a year and a half. I don’t want to jeopardize all that now. I’ve already become obsessive enough, weighing my gear and pouring over my notes and rechecking my lists. Cyndi reminded me, “You don’t need to add an injury because you got lightheaded and tumbled into the street.”

      Cyndi is a smart girl, and I love her for it. One reason we’ve survived, actually flourished, for 38 years, besides the fact I’ve been hot for her for at least 42 years, is that we’ve continually kept our eyes and hearts on long term goals and plans. We want a great future together, not just a great today.

      So I suppose I’ll follow Cyndi’s advice and be careful for the next few weeks. But if you see me out riding and think it is too hot, you don’t need to tell Cyndi. She seems to find out on her own.


PS. Two days later, Saturday morning, I rode 62 miles. It was a bit windy, as always, but the temperature was in the upper 70’s, and I had a great time. Happy birthday to me.


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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