Monday, July 27, 2009

Wanting to be good at something…

From the first crank on the bike, I loved and hated it ALL at the same time. The first mountain bike ride was at best, tolerable. The next day due to the lack of appropriate fluids, stretching, and caloric filled foods, I thought my shins and thighs would be consumed in flames. I had prepared my final words on my deathbed and probably would have preferred a bed pan because standing up from the toilet really caused me to shriek in pain (out loud, no less). I hobbled about my office looking as if I had tried to run with the bulls in Spain (and lost poorly). I vowed never to go back out there….and then I could not stop.

From there, it was an upward climb (oh the irony). I wanted to go back out. I fell. I scraped, scratched, and destroyed 90% of the dermis on my legs. Scabs were a common accessory as earrings. Bags of frozen vegetables were conveniently placed near the coldest part of the freezer before I would head out for a ride only to be placed on my burning, throbbing legs later. I never set out to become a pro….but if anything, I just set out to find love. I set out to find something I was good at.

There are a lot of things I am not good at. I will NEVER be a championship swimmer. I will never be iron man winner (that I know of), and I doubt that I will ever play golf with any enthusiasm…but guess what I can do forever? The bike. It may not be smooth, it may not be pretty…but I can do it for a long time. There is a certain amount of discipline involved and the accomplishments are accumulated by small barely noticeable improvements (migration to clipless pedals [which ironically are NOT clipless], longer mileage, smoother lines, conquering log crossings, catching air, high fiving other riders). It is one of those things that when I am out and see a mother or father pulling their child behind them in matching cycling outfits, I blurt out, “I want to do that…”

Three years ago if you had asked me about wheels, hubs, cranksets, handlebars, pedals, tires, I would have stared back at you blankly (brown eyes blinking). Three years ago if you told me I would be doing 50-mile road rides, I would have laughed at you and probably sniffed your drink for alcohol. Three years ago if you told me, I would be encouraging everyone I know to get a bike, I would have told you, “I have other hobbies…” That was then, this is now.

I turn 33 this year and certainly there are handfuls of accomplishments that I will probably not reach. However, for every door closed, another opens. I was tearing down River Road yesterday, pushing as hard as I could for as long as I could, actually impressing myself (briefly, mind you). Cars swerved around me and in front of me was my city…in the sun, looking absolutely breath taking. These are not the sights you get in the car because you are too busy texting, playing with the radio, or telling a backseat driver to adjust their attitude. Why would I want to ride until I feel my breath give out….and my legs wobble? Because, I can and someday I will not be able to.

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