Battenkilling my Choices

So I rode the Medio Fondo of the Tour of the Battenkill yesterday – 42 over-hyped miles. The good part was hanging with my friend Joe, who I don’t get to ride with enough since he moved away. We drove up together, shared a room in a cool, classic 1950s motel , and found a diner that served blueberry pancakes so big that I couldn’t finish one. Otherwise, the ride was a big “meh”. 

Now, how much of the meh was me and how much was the ride itself is questionable. Battenkill got a lot right. The volunteers were friendly and helpful, registration was a breeze, the course was well marked, the countryside beautiful, and traffic control outstanding. But for a ride with a reputation for dirt, dirt comprised no more than 20% of the miles. And the food and beer at the end was lame – Sam in a bottle, or Coors Light; and a choice of an eggplant sandwich (which looked deceptively like a steak sandwich), a hot dog, or a foil-wrapped burger. Oh yeah, there were chips too.

Being a D2R2 vet, my expectations might have been too high. That ride has so much vibe it throbs. The food and beer are outstanding. And the course is brutally better.

But there’s this, too.

I sucked.

Last year, a 42 mile ride was Thursday night. In years past, I wouldn’t have hesitated to sign up for the 74 mile Gran Fondo. Yesterday, I cried my way through the last half of the ride and finished in the middle of the pack.

I’m questioning my life choices. Or at least my cycling choices.

Since taking up mtbing, my time on dirt roads has plummeted. So, evidently, has my fitness. I’m half afraid to ride with the Thursday-night crew, and I wonder if I want to because those rides always hurt.

But that pain made me the best cyclist I’ve ever been. I felt good about my abilities. And that fitness makes mtbing all the more fun.

And speaking of the D2R2, there’s no way on God’s green earth I could ride it in the shape I’m in, which just makes me sad.

It isn’t just a matter of choosing what kind of riding I want, either. There’s this new job, which I love, but which takes more time than my previous ones. There are my volunteer commitments. And all of these things rob time from my family.

Maybe it’s the weather this year. Constant rain hasn’t made finding time to ride easier.

It’s clear I need to figure something out. Whether that’s to cut back on cycling, which at this point is more of an admission than a choice, or to figure out where my time is going and try to structure a more organized life (yeah, right…), or to drop some of the volunteer work, well, I just don’t know. What I do know is that all of these things are beginning to feel like chores, and that’s a problem.


About swampyankeecyclist

I'm Andy Engel, just a middle-aged, middle-class guy from Roxbury, Connecticut. I've been married to my best friend since 1988, and we have two grown sons. I like riding bikes, and my biggest accomplishment is the 180K D2R2. I own 5 bikes but my go-to rides are a 2016 GT Grade gravel and commuter bike and a 2016 Specialized 650b hardtail mountain bike. Additionally, I have a 2000-something carbon-fiber Orbea road bike, a 1990-something Specialized Sirrus that's my old dirt and commuter bike and which now serves as a spare and a trainer bike, and a 1985 Ross Mount Hood MTB. All but the 650b have Brooks saddles. I work from home now, but used to commute 32 miles round trip to work by bike year round. I was a carpenter and still love building things, but regular paychecks, insurance, and vacation time lured me into journalism. I've written a couple of books on carpentry, and I've been an editor at Fine Homebuilding, Fine Woodworking, and Professional Deck Builder magazines. Currently, I manage construction events at the JLC Live and Remodeling Show trade shows. Additionally, my wife and I run Transylvania Guest House, an Airbnb. Find us on Instagram. Come stay with us and I'll show you some great cycling.
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2 Responses to Battenkilling my Choices

  1. Mike Guertin says:

    I’m going through some of the same lately. My misery loves your company. It’s so hard to schedule rides more than a couple hours ahead with the wacky weather lately. I do enjoy your blogs – Please keep making time for them ; )

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