I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for cycling. Not that I wouldn’t be part of BKW, or that I wouldn’t be writing about cycling in general, but I don’t think I’d still be on this spinning rock, were it not for cycling.
Each soul has a dark night, or two. Generally, we find our way through. We talk to friends, family, maybe a shrink, make jokes about the course of Prozac, but soon enough a day dawns and we realize that life ain’t so bad. At least, that’s how it works most of the time.
Not too many years ago I experienced what they call in the parlance some “setbacks.” Relationship, career, finances, there wasn’t a break to be had. I celebrated a birthday moonlighting as a limo driver. And while I stayed on the bike, I didn’t have the will or energy to do hard miles, which is to say, I couldn’t express myself; there were no statements to be made.
There came a point when I began to believe that I was taking more than I deserved, giving less than I believed I should. And in the only way I could do the math, I began to think the world would have an easier time without the burden. As much as I knew my solution would hurt others, I began to think it was the lesser of two evils.
But I kept pedaling. Even when there seemed nothing to be gained, I kept going. I began riding more miles just to keep myself from brooding. I rode through sunrises and sunsets. I lost weight, and even though I didn’t feel like attacking the hills, I was suffering less.
The simple act of turning the pedals and moving through the world around me kept me rooted to it, ironic as that sounds. Seeing the wonder of the landscape, the changing vistas, the fun of descents, the inexorable reminder of my fragility as I climbed worked better than sunlight itself.
I don’t know when I turned the corner. I just recall that with each successive ride through that winter one thought kept returning: I’m glad I’m here; I wouldn’t want to miss this. And that was the key; selfishly, I knew I wasn’t finished yet.
Since then, of course, everything has changed. Family, friends, career, it all runs as well as freshly installed Dura-Ace. I’m not going to try to wrestle with the mystery of our existence, why we’re here or what we’re meant to do with it. The answer is different for each of us. What I continue to marvel at is the way a simple device meant for transportation has allowed us to discover so much more, not in going or even arriving, but in the doing. The doing is enough for which to be grateful.