Some days I just can’t even, especially towards the end of any season (see last week’s TCIF for an elaboration). I sit at the bottom of the basement stairs, the bike rack off to my right, bike shoes and helmets on a shelf right in front of me. I begin to go through the rig-a-ma-roll. Shoes on. Find gloves. Helmet on. Do I need glasses? Where did I put my water bottles? Readjust shoes. Roll bike out door. Bounce bike to listen for unexpected rattles. Check tires. Check chain. Go back in for water bottles. Make sure I have a pump of some sort. Fasten helmet. Take glasses off. Put glasses back on. Throw a leg over.
Somedays it just seems like much too much.
It’s like the last lap in a 24 hour race. Yeah. I get it. We put all this stuff on, and we ride around until we’re exhausted. Then we go home and wash all this stuff, so we can do it again. By the end of any one season, I’m so sick of the clothes I’ve been pulling onto my exhausted body that I briefly consider burning them in some sort of sacrificial rite. All this stuff is too expensive for pyrrhic catharsis.
Here in the end of summer (if it ever really ends), I’ve sweated through the same bib-shorts and jerseys too many times. I’m a fastidious launderer, but there is something spiritually draining in the practice. All the sublimations are getting more and more sublimated, which is not to say sublime.
Let’s flip this. Let’s acknowledge the positive truth, that through patience and consistency we receive the gifts that cycling has to offer. I don’t achieve the flow every time I go out, but sometimes I do. Sometimes I get to that transcendent place, the wheels spinning, the bike riding itself. And then sometimes I’m just hanging with friends, talking things over, airing problems, making fart jokes (no pun). This too is necessary in life’s grand processional.
I like to say think dignity is like an iceberg, the shimmering, shiny bit above the surface, the indignity beneath, and the greater part of the whole. This is where cycling takes me, deep down into myself, day-by-day, until I am sick of me sometimes, and I sit at the bottom of those basement stairs and wonder what I’m still doing.
But then I get over myself a ride my bike.
This week’s TCI Friday asks, do you ever get sick of riding bikes? Do you ever think you’ve done it all and don’t need to do it again? I recognize, even within my own experience, the rise and fall of motivation, the wax and wane of passion. Part of the reason I push onward in those moments is that I know it all comes around again eventually. Sometimes you need a break. Sometimes you just need to keep pedaling.