The thing I love about riding and running, is that it forces me to slow down. I’m such a fricking spaz that no matter what I’m doing, I’m doing it at 90 miles an hour. People recognize my walk before they can get close enough to see my face. I can only guess it’s because I’m leaned forward as if there’s a strong head wind. People in front of me are meant to be picked off, whether they’re driving, riding their bikes, or rolling their wheelchairs; I’ve got to get around them.

That only works for about 20 minutes when it comes to a long bike ride. I mean, it’s absolutely ridiculous to go as fast as possible right off the bat. So if I want to get deep into the woods, or spend an hour running, I have to force myself to start slow, no matter how good it feels to churn miles of trail.

I’m so tempted to just get that climb over with and behind me. I try to remember that the bliss is in being alone with my breath and aching body (away from the children). I remind myself that no matter how hard I work, I’m still probably going to be out here a few hours.

It’s in this slow and steady that I find all of the long-term power, both emotionally and physically. The brain starts sorting things out in a more rational form. The anger surrenders to exhaustion: “Mama’s little helper” minus the hangover. It’s in these relenting rides that my lungs become deeper and my quads a little stronger. It makes the next ride so much more fun knowing it’s become a matter of “Where are we going?” compared to “How far will we go?”

I guess that’s also the difference between people who ride to get a workout, and people who ride because the fun factor is inexplicable.

The ones who ride purely for a workout are at the mountaintop by 7:30 a.m. talking to their buddies about the next triathlon they’re going to race. I admit that there are times in life when this is the only way exercise can fit into the schedule. Having a goal forces you to do that thing you love so you’ll be constantly reminded of your love for it.

The emphasis changes when you have to fight for an hour on the bike. At that point you really don’t care what kind of shape you’re in—you just want to laugh while flying down the hill, no matter how much suffering was required to first get you to the top.

I never know where I am. I just know that smooth and steady will get me there.