May 16: Hard Times

On May 15-16, my legs feel like they’re running on empty for a couple of hours after lunch. I can still pedal, but it feels like I’ll barely make it up the next hill. An hour or two later, my legs keep pedalling, but they always ache. I’ve stopped more often and pushed my bike up some hills. There have been hills, heat, and hard rain. Since there has been a lot of rain, I have fewer pictures than normal, so I’ll describe what it’s felt like.

I’ve never considered stopping any physical challenge that I’ve started—not cycling across the UK, not marathons, not 100 mile bike rides. During the last 2 days, I’ve wondered if I could make it to the end of the day’s ride. Maybe it’s my lack of training for this ride or maybe my oncologist was right about the increased fatigue I would feel, from my cancer treatment. I’m not the last cyclist to finish each day, but I’m usually close. After a lifetime of being physically active, I’m not used to being one of the last so often.
The people I’m cycling with have helped a lot, encouraging me and other slow riders.

The tour leader, Wally, is especially good. He’s been leading tours for 20 years, and it shows in a few ways. He’s patient, insightful, and of course, he has an adorable bike. It has a belt drive, internal gears in back, and a frame that easily comes apart for shipping. Anyway, Wally keeps telling me and others that we’re doing fine. He also says that we’ll all get in amazing shape in a week or two.

I should know that. When I cycled across Britain, I pushed my bike up many hills, and I can still remember the pain in my legs, during the first couple of weeks. After that, I slowly gained strength and stamina. I’ve also learned that the other riders on this trip spent weeks or months getting in shape, riding hundreds or thousands of miles just to get ready for this trip.

There’s no reason to think I won’t get in better shape and feel less aches. It’s just hard to remember that at the end of the day, when it’s 80-90 degrees, a thunder-shower shows up, and of course, more hills. I always knew this ride was going to have tough moment, but when those moments get up close and personal, it can wear you down a bit. It helps to share some honest thoughts here and to talk with other cyclists at the end of the day. This long ride can hurt, but I’m not even close to giving up.

8 thoughts on “May 16: Hard Times

  1. Hurray – Go Steven! We believe in you (and admire what you’re doing). Well done for what you’ve achieved so far and good luck for the next hour and the next day. We’re with you (although, thankfully, from the sofa at home!).
    Best wishes from Caroline & Ian x

  2. Go go go Steven. We believe in you and know you can do this. After every hard ride you be be getting stronger and fitter. You have done amazingly so far. Keep going. Praying for the strength of God to supernaturally be with you. Much love from us allx

    • Thanks Fran, I appreciate the encouragement. I’m sure the days will get easier, looking forward to exchanging bike stories when we see you!

  3. I’m pulling for you Steve! You knew this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park! You can do this! ‍♂️

  4. Hang in there Steve!! Your doing it!! I’m glad to hear of a feel better timeline. 2 weeks till you get to a better recovery and energy level sounds hopeful. A countdown. You write well even in extreme pain. It comes natural to you. I hope you have a good day!

    • I’m starting to learn that “feeling better” has a few definitions. I’m definitely feeling better, but here are also new & creative aches & pains.

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