I read a couple of things this morning that really made me think, reconsider, and acknowledge what and who is important and why and how. I am generally an extremely happy person. The sun was shining on my face this morning through my window. I cracked that window ever so slightly as to let the cool Colorado breeze surround me and put me back to sleep for another hour or so. It was a delightful Sunday morning, especially considering the predicted 2 days of bad weather, which culminated with a little wind and a few clouds. Life is good.
But life isn’t always so good. A lot of people are dealing or have dealt with serious issues, whether it is death, relationships, family struggles, financial problems, job-related stress, etc. I consider myself an extremely lucky person to have had the good fortune I have, and try to remind myself of this on a daily basis. It was only after reading these articles in the blogosphere that I realized my own need to reflect and appreciate. I, certainly have not dealt directly with the mourn and loss that some people around me have. In this year alone I have witnessed the loss of family and friends somewhat from afar and from a removed emotional position. My main investment at these times has been with the people that were directly affected. Feeling their pain and trying to understand what they are going through has made me appreciative for all that I have. It has also made me realize that sometimes biking isn’t the most important thing in my world. When people close to me are dealing with the loss of a loved one, they couldn’t give two shits about how far I rode today. They need support, and are dealing with loss in their own way.
This takes me full circle back to the bike. Everybody deals with pain, stress, love, and loss differently. For me, the bike is my release. The bike is what kept me sane while working a boring, mentally numbing, mundane office job in a dirty factory that I hated. If it weren’t for my after work trail ripping sessions, wherein all of my stress and hate was left on the dirt under my wheels, and the realization that I do have endorphins (they just get buried while sitting in an office chair all day), I probably would have gone insane. More importantly, I wouldn’t appreciate life as much as I do today. When my Grandpa, whom I was very close with, died a year and a half ago, the trail again was my release. I could barely make it into the office that day as I tried to hold the tears back, and upon arriving proceeded to turn right back around and head home. Little did I know that I would get home, grab my bike, and head straight for the trails at Brown County State Park. It was almost second-nature; I didn’t think, I just DID. I can still remember standing at the top of the park at a beautiful viewpoint in which miles of dense forest spreads out below you, with my bike by my side. The tears had all run dry in the hour that it took to climb to the vista, and I was happy and appreciative once again. As I dropped back down for another 45 minutes of ripping perfectly groomed Midwestern singletrack, my mind was blank and thoughtless, without worry or stress. I owe it all to the bike.
So I wanted to take a little time to reflect on what is important to me. Friends and family, first and foremost, because without them my goals and aspirations cannot be achieved. As I spend more and more time and energy these days focusing on bike racing and other bike-related endeavors, it is important to take a step back and thank everyone who supports me in this crazy life. You have to step out of the ego-driven box that you have inevitably stuck yourself in, and realize that there is a whole other world out there, and it’s not always so lovely.
This is a good time for me to reflect, because soon I may not be able to. The racing season is quickly approaching, at which point my time will be juggled between racing/traveling, training, and working to somehow fund this money-devouring addiction. In a few weeks I head to California for the Sea Otter Classic, and hopefully more racing and a WHOLE bunch more riding.
Oh, and I'm getting super excited for the National Ultra Endurance Series, and this vid doesn't hurt:
Can I actually race for 100 miles? I don't know, and that is the best part.