My favorite part of the ride is around mile 20 when I start to get a little light headed, and the monotony of the rode has murmurred to me like a mantra "pedal pedal pedal pedal" lulling me into a sleep-like zen state. Then everything disappears from my head and there is only breath and legs and spilling pedals and the road flying underneath. At that moment I can see the world without analyzing it, without wanting anything from it, without seeking anything in it. Normally when you're driving around you're looking for your destination, or even just looking for good views, or just looking at the houses and judging them, evaluating them - your analytical mind is going over everything you see, you don't just see it, you see it and process it, your mind attacks it, takes it apart. In the zen state I reach a point where the world is just going by and the analytical mind turns off and the world is just *there*.
People who are all analytical and careful about how they ride are like people who want to be really clean and proper during sex; no! this is the time to be loose and wild and relax and just go with what your body tells you to do!
Biking and bike racing are all about managing your self. You have only so much energy, you need to decide how to use it. If you burn it all up early you'll bonk and have a terrible ride. Over time you get to know your own body, you know you can sprint up hill A without going into the red, but not if you're having an off day. If a big hill is coming up, you know you have to take it easy for a bit to recoup so you can have energy to take it on. I think all these same skills are very important in life and work. You need to be aware of yourself and what drains you and how much energy you have, and how to prepare for things.
It occurred to me that one of the big things I do when I'm in dating mode is I very carefully manage my self. I try to make sure I'm in a good mood and have energy when I go on a date. I don't just rush straight from work or a hard workout to a date when I'm all exhausted and in a bad mood. I'll avoid making dates when I know I'd have to go through traffic to make the time, because then I would arrive all agitated and pissed off. Sometimes I'll push into the "red zone", forcing myself to be energetic on a date when I really just want to go to bed.
I stop all that once I get into a committed relationship. I know in my past I've been disappointing to my lovers because I'm a lot of fun during the dating phase, we do lots of new stuff, I'm talkative and energetic. Then over time as we settle in together, I stop doing all that because it's a fucking pain, and I'm just more myself, which is a boring homebody who hates to talk. I know you need to keep doing things together, so I'll still find things for us to do and we'll go out on "date nights" or whatever, but it's not the same. I just realized a big piece of the difference is this managing myself issue.