Japan DiaryMinnesota Musings

Dopamine Oh Dopamine, Where Art Thou?

By September 21, 2020No Comments

Sitting here at the keyboard typing this blog post I am blissed out from fatigue and the remaining dopamine flowing through my brain veins after a full day of cycling. Ahhhh.

At the ripe old age of 55 I still got it baby! Fast, no, determined with perseverance, hell yes. What you lose in speed you make up for in learning how to play it smart. Could I have been faster? Yes, maybe. But what’s the point? Speed is a young person’s game.

To finish an epic ride (157 km, 4000 meters of climbing, 8 hours 57 minutes in the saddle) like yesterday is no easy feat. As I pondered the accomplishment I realized that a very small percentage of the world population would be able to pull it off. I would say easily less than 1% of the population could do what was done yesterday in less than 10 hours if at all. Long climbs (10% grade, upwards of 15km taking one hour or more) with a mix of paved road, rocks, mud and dirt, it is where external elements meets inward pain and suffering. It’s where rubber meets the psychic road. Most would succumb to the pain and suffering or both.

I never once felt I wanted to give up. This is simply because of training, a healthy lifestyle and calling on the many years of having experienced that same pain and suffering. This begs the question and asked by many, why? Why not simply go out and ride your around the neighborhood? I can say it is in my blood to push myself to the limits even at this middle age. I have slowed down, but still pushing the limits. And simply the beauty.

Truth be told, I am a junkie, dependent upon the chemical dopamine. There I admitted it. My brain is a junkie hellbent on getting a hit of dopamine anytime it can. I am getting it now as I write. Creativity causes the release of dopamine, albeit it not nearly as much as cycling. Sex and release = dopamine. But there is nothing like dopamine from exercise.

I find within an hour warming up on my bike that oh so lovely chemical kicks in and it’s off to the races, literally and figuratively. The longer I ride the more it flows. Could I get my fix other ways, yes and I do, see above, but I find in short cycling is one of the few sports that I have done over the years (I have done many) that cycling tics off the following boxes:

  • Dopamine
  • Weight management
  • Healthy lifestyle
  • Longevity scale tipping
  • Did I say dopamine? Oh yes I did.
  • Social life – Cycling and coffee go hand in hand.

And to top it off you can ride a bike for as long as you have balance and health. In Japan I see bike riders well into their 90s still riding. Although they ought not be for the sake of society. My Mom rode until she was 78 and would have continued had she not had balance issues.

In short—Dopamine and views, baby!

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