She text messaged me from the saddle and told me she completed a Sudoku puzzle while riding her bike on the trainer. Seriously. What's next? Sudoku on the toilet? My wife said it made her dizzy. To avoid the spins while spinning and solving the puzzle, she had to put the book down, think about a solution to a square, then pick the book back up and fill in her answer. For the record, in case my wife is the million dollar inventor of a new sport, Bikedoku was invented in my garage on Sunday, January 2nd, 2011. I've already applied for a patent for a carbon fiber seat tube bottle cage pencil holder. If she ever decides to get rollers, I'm taking out a life insurance policy.
Either my garage must be incredibly boring to a woman, or the stimulus our bodies receive while riding an actual bike actually outside is unbelievably incredible. It can't be my garage, no woman can resist my man-cave. Along with a bible sized Sudoku puzzle book, she had the TV tuned to Universal Sports coverage of World Cup downhill skiing, her Blackberry and an I-pod at the ready…all this for an hour on the trainer. Is riding a bike outside with a group like solving a puzzle with music blaring, while checking Facebook updates as skiers swoosh down the Alps at 60mph in front of our eyes?
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No wonder we crave it. Cycling is a sensory smorgasbord. Wind bites your face. From behind, someone shouts car back. Woosh! Pee Ewww. It’s a garbage truck. The spray of a puddle splash paints your shins. You glance down at your heart rate, still 80%. Oh how cute. Look, it’s an Alpaca farm. Better slow for the covered bridge ahead. Your fingers grab the cold brake levers. You reach back and pull a strawberry-banana Gu from your jersey pocket. A dog defends his territory running along the roadside fence.
That stuff happens on every single ride. Hundreds of sights, sounds, smells, flavors, and textures envelope your route.
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When I think about it, I wonder if we choose rides based on their sensory attributes. Your tired legs might crave an easy bike path ride, but I think your mind might be asking for something flat feeling, the tunnel-like feel of the tree canopy, the sound of the river on your right. You say you’d rather ride in Northern Kentucky than Ohio today. Maybe your body is craving the butterflies in the stomach feel of roller coaster hills, the sound of a horse whinny, and a ridgeline view.
It’s been a long time since her last race or big group ride. Maybe doing Sudoku on the trainer while texting and watching World Cup Skiing isn’t any crazier than calculating the time gap to your teammate in the breakaway and the number of miles to the finish line while you’re in the peloton inches from a wheel in front of you, with your heart rate at 85%, rolling at 24mph, as somebody shouts “left side” as you struggle to grab the wheel of a rival team member zipping up the left trying to make the bridge.
In case you miss racing...here's a taste of Bikedoku.