Pain pleasure continuum……
There is something I consistently fail to understand about human psychology, and that is the intimate relationship between pain and pleasure. Now I am not referring to any perverse elements of human nature, the sort that you might seek in dodgy bookshops or on dubious websites. No, I’m referring to the transparent tendency amongst homo sapiens to seek out opportunities to subject themselves to crushing pain and discomfort, swear and complain about it, find someone else to blame for it, say that they’ll never do that again as long as they live…….and actually mean the opposite.
I remember once taking part in a 24 hour cycle ride in the Scottish Highlands, something known as a 400km Audax, and it rained solidly for 22 hours. At about 3am in the middle of the night, after a short rest and refreshment stop, somewhere desolate and remote in the western highlands, we climbed back on our bikes feeling totally miserable, wet, unloved and misunderstood, and I said to my Mancunian travelling companion: “Never again…..never will I do this again…..in my life!!” And he said: “Ay, never again……until the next time, that is”.
D’you know……..he was absolutely right. Like goldfish swimming around in their little bowl, what happened just a few seconds ago is quickly erased from the memory, and before long, we repeat what we vowed we’d never do again as long as we live. That just about sums the psychology of endurance riders like myself. The more dire and hellish a ride has been, the more intense is the pleasure, for simply having survived it, and lived long enough to……..well, do it again.
So it is with this in mind that in 24 hours time, I will take myself off to Penrith in Cumbria, join about 500 other bike riders for the annual CTC Birthday Rides, and spend the whole week sleeping in a tent in the coldest and wettest part of the country, and going for daily 80 mile rides amongst some of the most vertical climbs you can imagine (Honister and Kirkstone passes, Tan Hill, ‘Cote de Buttertubs’…and much more), with the likelihood of hitting a total of 40,000 feet of climbing by the end of the week.
It will give me a huge amount of pain to complain and swear about, but like a goldfish, it will be forgotten in a trice and I’ll be off somewhere else looking for more. Now try explaining that to a ‘sofa bear’.