July 24th, Day 36: Rest day.

Today we are on a 4 hour ferry crossing of Lake Michigan. The Internet service on the boat is apparently so poor as to make the hotels we’ve been staying in feel as though they are at the very forefront of the digital revolution (in reality the hotel connectivity has on many days been worse than the 19.2kbps modem I had at home 20 years ago). Anyway, rather more constructively, I thought I’d rattle this off before breakfast so James can post before we leave the hotel.

After spending 2,500 miles in the saddle I’ve had a certain amount of time to develop coping strategies for dealing with self inflicted pain. James has been working on a hypothesis around the optimum pedalling speed to minimise total pain integrated over time. Sadly his preliminary draft did not pass the exacting peer review standards for this publication so here’s something less scientific while he refines his thesis. 

1. The Pain Register

This is a ritual Genevieve’s pilot and I go through several times a day. One of us calls out each item on the register and we each then reply with a number in the range 0-10. 0 means no pain at all in that particular body part and 10 means pain so severe that we would be unable to continue cycling. The Register comprises:

  • neck
  • shoulders
  • arms
  • hands/wrists
  • back
  • sit bones (including blisters on the precise sit bone pressure points
  • undercarriage (other)
  • thighs
  • knees
  • lower legs, ankles and feet

Fortunately, to date, both our scores for most body parts have been 0 or 1. Sit bones and undercarriage (other) have unsurprisingly been the exceptions, with James hitting a new low point yesterday with a 6 on his sit bones. Hopefully a day’s rest will help before tomorrow’s 112 mile ride. 

2. Pain Aphorisms

Here are a few mantras repeated by other riders in the group, with varying levels of conviction or irony:

  • Pain is just weakness leaving your body
  • No pain, no gain
  • Wind is my friend – behind me it makes me faster, in front of me it makes me stronger
  • Pain is only temporary, defeat is forever

3. Perspective

This sounds a bit cheesy but it’s what makes dealing with the discomfort easy for me (so far!). Cycling one mile takes around 4 minutes, or 250 pedal strokes. Every mile I cycle will restore sight to one person and transform their life forever. So when some disgruntled body part is telling me to stop I just count to 250 and tick off one more sight restoration.

As for our daily photos, James has offered to post pictures of his sit bones, but on balance, the artistic image below from Marty seems more worthwhile.

The lighthouse of lake winnebago is shown against a backdrop of clouds with two cyclists looking small in front of it. The photo is in black and white.
The lighthouse on Lake Winnebago. Photo courtesy of Martin Stabler.