Pain is doubt.
Doubting one's actual capabilities. Doubting of having made the best choices.
Saturday we pedaled the perfect ride in view of next weekend's century. Sixty miles of moderately challenging hills and relatively low-traffic roads, from Santa Barbara to the top of Casitas Pass and back. We call this the "simmetrica" due to the shape of the elevation chart:
Usually I like rides that develop into loops, I hate riding the same way back and forth. But this one is special and fun, and the best hills acquire a definite sense of novelty when climbing up from the opposite direction. On top of Casitas pass, colored writing on the asphalt still cheers for Steve Cozza, George Hincapie and Paolo Bettini from the recent Amgen Tour of California. It's just a great place to be, to stop for a second or two, admire the amazing landscape, the emerald-colored lake below, before diving down the hill again and start the second half of the effort.
Less exciting is waking up with lumbar pain the day after. The body can respond with pain when something is wrong, but what? Too much effort? Too low a saddle? Something completely unrelated? Muscle pain is good, brings back the memory of the glorious effort and tells of future even greater endeavors. Back pain is insidious, and hard to deal with, especially with an event approaching. Even at low intensity or controlled by anti-inflammatory medication it makes its presence continually known, and throws additional fuel on the fire of doubt.