The 4 Stages of Starting Out

We’ve arrived in Afton after 51 miles of riding, including a 5 mile climb in the rain. We’re staying at the Jericho Farm Inn B&B, which is the vatican of a bizarre teddy bear cult. All horizontal surfaces are covered with teddy bears of all imaginable sizes, and all vertical surfaces are covered with pictures of teddy bears. Two actual dogs live here; they are named Teddy and Bear. I feel a bit off balance. I’m disoriented by the unremitting assault of teddy bear power.

We had an excellent dinner at the Main Street Grill & Bakery. I forgive them the green beans. Not that the green beans were bad; in fact, they were excellent as far as green beans go. But they were, after all, green beans, and so in need for forgiveness.

I thought I would improve your minds, which are undoubtedly saturated with meaningless drivel, by explaining the four stages of starting out, which I experienced, categorized, and formalized today, while riding uphill in the rain.

Anxiety. I woke up this morning around 5. The sky was gray, & I couldn’t tell if the gray was due to clouds, suggesting rain, implying misery for cyclists, or the sun not being fully up. I was very worried about the schedule I had devised, which had us riding for 3 days straight. I wanted another day of preparation, though I didn’t have any idea what I would do with the extra day, or how it would change the fact that on the day after the extra day, we would still have to ride 150 miles in 3 days, pulling our gear through the Catskill Mountains. I lay in bed for a long time in worry and worthless speculation, until a cold, wet nose on my back reminded me that more important issues pressed: a couple of dogs were waiting for me to get my sorry ass out of bed and make them some breakfast.

Irritation. After breakfast, I was ready to go. But Suzy, of course was not. She was dawdling and delaying and inventing endless irritating reasons not to leave. The dishes needed to be washed. But they couldn’t be washed in the dishwasher (which would have been too simple and efficient), because then we would come home after vacation and find a dishwasher full of clean dishes, an outcome which could not be tolerated. Then Fat Cow had refused to renew her domain name,, because of a credit card error. Can we please get going, already? Then her web site was out of date, and changes had to be made and uploaded to the server. I’d like to leave today, please. The box of stuff we were mailing ahead to Block Island was supposed to go to the post office yesterday, but anyone who looked could see that the box was still on the living room floor. Ok, I’ll drive it down to Slaterville. Now can we go? And so forth. And so on. Fortunately I had recently been reading Seneca’s essay on Anger, so I knew how unphilosophical, and unstoical, it would be to allow my amygdala to be my guide.

Boredom. We finally got off around 10:30. (I confess there was a last minute delay at about the 50 foot from home mark. I went back and retrieved my set of fixed-width wrenches, which I had hoped to have the courage to leave at home, in favor of a couple of crescent wrenches, an exchange which would have saved us 8 oz. of burden. But what if there were some 8 mm. nut that I really, really needed to loosen, but which I could not get at with a crescent wrench because it was too thick? God knows there are no words of regret more bitter than these: “If I only had my 8 mm. wrench.”) Eight miles later, I was totally bored. We were climbing the ascent on Rt. 79 coming into Richford. I was bored, bored, bored. I couldn’t believe how bored I was. I just wanted to sit down with my iPad and catch up on my RSS feeds. I really needed to partake of some tasty RSS. I can’t do this. I can’t pedal for 5 hours. I am so bored. I hope a big truck squashes me as soon as possible and relieves me of this excruciating boredom.

Engagement. Two hours later I realized I wasn’t bored any longer. I found myself thinking about what a jerk Richard Dawkins is, how he fundamentally fails to understand natural selection, and if he weren’t an arrogant, misogynistic alpha male, he might have a clue, but he is, so he doesn’t. My analysis of his intellectual and emotional failings was insightful and compelling, and I was no longer bored. My body was fully engaged in the task of moving my feet around in circles, and somehow the energy field created on the carnal plane induced a resonant vibration on the psychic plane which ultrasonically, as it were, cleansed my mind of the dregs of boredom, leaving it luminously clear for Higher Thought. I was fully engaged, in the zone. And I stayed there for the rest of the day. In spite of the rain.

[Sometimes posting is delayed because we don’t have Internet access. As is the case here. The post belongs to Afton and yesterday, but couldn’t be published until today at Oneonta.]


5 thoughts on “The 4 Stages of Starting Out”

  1. Why do (presumably) perfectly intelligent people ride bicycles uphill in the rain – and for great distances?? Has Suzy been coerced into this torture by an abusive husband? Or is it the other way around? Or are you both trying to get even with the other??

    1. A revision of your assumption provides the simplest explanation, that you are mistaken in applying the “perfectly intelligent” property. The only other possible explanation is that it’s all Suzy’s fault.

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