Riding and living through the pain

Eddy Merckx

“Life is hard. After all, it kills you.” –  Katharine Hepburn

Suffering on bicycle is a point of pride for many cyclist, me included. Pedaling on a flat, windless, 70 degree day is easy, anyone can do that. But the real metal of a cyclist is tested on those days when your body and your mind is pushing against you and the environmental conditions are adding to your misery. I experienced that again on Saturday. I say again because in the fifteen years I have pedaled a bicycle I have had glorious days and days I just wanted to throw my bike down, crawl into the weeds on the side of the road and die.

“When it’s hurting you, that’s when you can make a difference” – Eddy Merckx

We did what I call the “Roller Coaster” ride Saturday. It is supposed to be fifty miles but because of the anticipated heat I chopped fifteen miles off of it. As the name implies it is a ride of ups and downs, nothing really severe but in 90 degree heat with 85% humidity the combination of terrain and weather made for a difficult day for me.

Cycling, at least for me, has a number of parallels to living. Going downhill is easy, honestly there is nothing to it. The hardest thing about going downhill is determining how fast you want to go. It becomes a decision about control. There are hills, that I am familiar with, that I will race down at 35 mph. But as I have gotten older I find myself rethinking some of those decisions. Hitting a rock, a pot-hole or a squirrel on skinny tires at even 10 mph can be heart stopping or can result in broken bones. At my age I don’t mind losing a little skin but a broken collarbone or hip would be harder to deal with.

So, like life, every Whee moment of barreling downhill must include paying the price of struggling back-up. As I tell new people who ride with me, you simply can’t have one without the other. I am built for going downhill. Gravity is both my friend and my enemy. Unfortunately the going down part doesn’t last as long as the going up, but that is my struggle, a struggle I experience alone as all my skinny friends pass me up the hill.

Back to Saturday, I had a tough day on the bike. I knew within ten miles I was in for a long, miserable and hot day. I could have easily called it quits and headed back for the car. At my age, there really is no shame in that. But I don’t ride my bicycle for glory, or fame or a paycheck. I pedal because I can, I need to. I pedal because I know there are days ahead of me that I won’t be able to get off of the sofa. Days when 10 miles will be an accomplishment not 50. I don’t know when those days will come, maybe tomorrow. But today I will ride for those Whee moments. I will bask in the glory of this creation, recuse turtles from becoming pancakes and I will suffer and moan as I struggle back up to the top of the hill, because I can, I should and I still have the will. I don’t ride to add days to my life, I ride to add life to my days.

“When it’s hurting you, that’s when you can make a difference” – Eddy Merckx

 

 

 

 

 

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About ends and beginnings blog

I am a frustrated writer and poet waiting to be discovered. A stand-up philosopher performing on a street corner near you. A Christian with questions but I don’t want to hear your answers. A Buddhist with a bumper sticker on my truck to prove it. A collector of quotes. A grower of lettuce. The Patron Saint of earthworms who name their children after me. A cyclist whose big ass strains the seams of his Lycra bibs. I am American by birth, Southern by the grace of God. My goal in life is to leave an imprint on the lives of the people I love not a footprint on the earth. I am a son, a husband, a father composed of 65%-Oxygen, 18%-Carbon, 10%-Hydrogen, 3%-Nitrogen, 3%-Diet Coke and 1%-Oreo.
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9 Responses to Riding and living through the pain

  1. Anthony says:

    I have much the same problem. While I have the muscles to chug up hills, when they get to be too long, I don’t have the cardiovascular fortitude to haul this bat body up the hills. I definitely need to lose some pounds to make that uphill struggle less.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “But I don’t ride my bicycle for glory, or fame or a paycheck. I pedal because I can, I need to. I pedal because I know there are days ahead of me that I won’t be able to get off of the sofa. Days when 10 miles will be an accomplishment not 50.” – Yes!!!!! That’s it! And this too- ” I don’t ride to add days to my life, I ride to add life to my days.” I came off my bike a couple of days ago and as I hurled through the air I saw all the possible bone-smashed outcomes whizz through my mind. I ended up with badly sprained wrist, a broken rib and lots and lots of bruises, so I’m really pretty pleased at the outcome considering how things might have gone! Hahahaha. Weeks off the bike, not months thankfully. I’m terrible at hills, but I persevere slowly, I was of course coming down one when things went pear-shaped. I love cycling in the summer.

    – Esme enjoying this post very much and waving with her good hand (the left of course) upon the Cloud

    Liked by 1 person

    • For cyclist the first question you always ask after hearing about someone having a crash is “Is your bike okay?”

      I had a car stop suddenly in front of me once, after changing into my line. I tacoed my front wheel on their bumper, went over the handlebars and landed on their trunk (called it wasn’t an SUV).

      When I got home I received a text from a riding buddy who had heard about my wreck. Question #1- How is your bike? Question #2- You riding Sunday? We are a weird bunch.

      Glad you are okay. How is your bike? 🙂

      Like

  3. Patty says:

    ” I don’t ride to add days to my life, I ride to add life to my days.”
    Exactly! Marvelous sentence. XxX

    Liked by 1 person

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