This is titled “ Writings of a torch bearer “ but it might be better labeled as ramblings or better yet miscellaneous random thoughts. It's what happens when I find myself on a road bicycle, my mind will wander off on it's own. I can't say this is normal or if I am the only one that has this escape while I participate in my life long passion. I have been asked when finishing 4 plus hours of endurance ride “ so where'd ya go “ and the best answer I had was “ Left “. I'd forgotten where I went and what I'd seen, this is my version of therapy. My mind was clear and content, ooommmmhhhhhh ( think a chant when one meditates ).
Therapy or meditation is probably the best way I think of riding and it's a lot cheaper than the couch in an office. There is a solitude and community to riding. It's your pain. It's your pleasure. It's your choice. I guess as a long time cyclist there is a bit of sadomasochism embedded within. The pain of a long climb with the elation of getting to the top. I've heard that we as humans don't remember pain, or at least the total level of pain, we just know it hurt and sometimes “ don't want to do that again “. But there we are grinding our way up that climb again and again knowing there is no monetary prize at the top. No one will be there to celebrate our moment of glory. Yes, I know you got the KOM on Strava, pin on a number and get that KOM in a race, brief rant.
I believe one of the most self abusive things to do is.. bicycle racing. After racing for many many years and moving up a few categories it did nothing but get harder and harder, faster and faster with an ever present level of pain. But I kept signing up and paying to abuse myself at 26+ mph. The truly crazy part is I want to return to the racing world. How sick is this guy ? I ask myself.
I am not taking anything away from all the other aspects of the world of Bicycles and Cycling. I’ve done many parts of the bicycle world. Dirt, gravel, touring, just pedaling the beachfront, commuting, riding with kids to just introduce them to the world. They all have their trials and tests, but I think that racing is the place you will find your personal level of “ to much pain “. I have watched riders that believe they are the strong guy on the weekly group ride, winning the KOM, jumping for those city limit sign to pip all the others at that imaginary line. Only to pin on a number and a few laps into the race find themselves alone in a group of one off the back of the field with nothing but pain as their friend. Some take that as a personal challenge to not get dropped others return to the comfort of the group ride.
I think I found the training one of the big bonuses of racing. I could go out and shake off all the hate and anger of the day. Excising my personal demons leaving them in the weeds on the side of the road. Note, some of those demons are well rooted, but it sure cleared my head.
I could even find creative motivations while out riding and training. 10 to 15 hrs of training a week gives lots of time to think and allow an imagination to develop abstract ideas. I'd dig around in my own head about all sorts of things. Be it as simple as a list of chores that needed to be done around the house or as complex as taking the car apart to swap out the engine, transmission, brakes, fuel system, dashboard, and all the suspension. .. it was a long ride.
I think the best part is that cycling and riding is a place for “ you “. It's your world and you get to choose the path and the length, how much therapy you need that day. For it is therapy, best kind, drug free with physical stress to disconnect the mind from the tasks of modern life. I think what I'm saying is . . Get out there and turn some pedals !!