Monday, on my ride out to school, I was a monster, hammering away in the big ring the miles flying by, strong as an ox, Eddy “The Cannibal” Merckx eat your heart out.
On the way home, though, I was completely defeated; I inched along at about five miles an hour it seemed. It usually takes me about a hundred minutes; this time, though, I clocked in at closer to two and a half hours.
What happened? Did I sustain an injury? Did I “bonk” hard? Was I drunk?
As a matter of fact, the explanation is much simpler: the invisible enemy defeated me.
Gusts as high as twenty miles an hour from the south/southwest smacked me right in the face the whole way; a couple of times they even almost pushed me over. It was relentless; I felt like grandma and even almost gave up and walked a few times.
And complain! The whole time I bemoaned to myself how awful it was; you could have easily convinced me that bikes suck; too bad I didn’t drive.
By contrast, the morning’s tailwind—almost as gusty—was barely palpable to me. All the power I felt was my doing; the wind only added a touch, if at all.
I’m sure I’ve gone on about this before, but it bears repeating (at least to me).
When we’re helped along by forces out of our control, we don’t really notice them. People born with economic and social advantages think they are completely “self-made.”
But when the difficulties are in our faces, we can’t help but be aware of them. Fighting the headwind, swimming upstream, going against the grain: it’s always there, you never don’t see it.
This is why, for instance, people born with silver spoons in their mouths tend to be unsympathetic to quite reasonable affirmative action programs and other such accomodations for the disadvantaged.
It’s why, I think, Mitt Romney should ride against a headwind.