For the last few years I haven’t thought of myself as a rider. Rather I thought of and called myself “someone who used to ride a lot” or “I used to ride a lot and now I just ride for fun”. Hmm, kind of funny and odd statements.
So you used to spend a lot of time riding your bike but now you don’t… now you just ride for fun. What the heck does that mean? Well, I suppose some deep thinkers with lots of letters behind their names would suggest this perspective represents some kind of issue with deep attachment, self-esteem, confidence, and authority figures…
But for me, a person with no letters behind my name, it just means that I hadn’t quite figured out what I was doing with my old pal the bicycle. Was I riding it just to ride around and get exercise? Was I riding it because I didn’t know what else to do? Was I riding it hoping the spark would come back and I’d feel like racing again? Was I riding it as a way to connect with my friends and the cycling community? Was I riding it to find some sanity in this topsy-turvy world? Was I riding it to give ulcerative colitis the big middle finger? Was I riding it because deep-down I love my two-wheeler?
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
After a few years away from the world of competitive and very serious (so serious it’s crazy) bike racing, I’ve finally realized that to ride a bike a lot and to have fun doing it – you need to be riding it for a whole bunch of reasons that can only makes sense to you.
How else do you explain the sacrifices, the crashes, the injuries, the happy times, the times when you feel like the lowest of the low, the back stiffness, the creaky knees, the funny tan lines, the collection of water bottles and empty bar wrappers, the slight tinge of grease that is deep inside your skin, the collection of tubes and tires that seem to collect in your basement, the innate knowledge of the best coffee shops located a mere 60 – 80 km pedal from your house?
This is what it feels like to have found that thing. That thing that makes you pull on layers of spandex, a couple of hats, and get out in the cold. That thing that makes you spend your summer days riding with friends, telling stories, and eating massive chocolate chip cookies at your favourite cafe. That thing that gets you excited at 6:00 a.m on a dark and wet November day and sees you out setting up a cyclo-cross course, racing your bike and hanging out for the rest of the day to cheer on your pals. That thing that gets your heart pumping, your eyes dancing and your soul dreaming.
Now I know why I hang out with my old pal the bicycle. For all of this and none of this. The bike is awesome. And so am I.