It’s the time of year when cyclists are evaluating the season past and attending to injuries, aches and new tech for the bike. I am lifting heavy and paying attention to the aches I have accumulated over a frustratingly truncated season.
I had the chance to test my health insurance, more than once, and the chance to truly appreciate ER doctors. I also have to say that I love good helmets, an ample supply of bandages and positive negotiation within a marriage.
In August, I found myself bouncing off of the boards on my local velodrome. I won the sprint, patched myself up, then won another match sprint before the race director told me that I was done racing. No new stitches, but an angry rib and an angrier wife, when all was said and done.
It’s been rough, honestly. I’ve never been good at balance. Life balance, that is. After the second crash, my wife declared an end to my season. At the time, it sounded like an end to all racing, and possibly cycling, EVER. This would never stand, and I think she had known it. I understand, to a degree.
I tend to go all-in. If I decide to do something, I want to be immersed. If I actually commit, this is the thing over which I tend to obsess. I’m not really a dabbler. This can cause problems, even neglect, in other areas. Occasionally, my wife feels she and our daughter fall in this category.
It does not help that she does not understand why any middle-aged person would want to compete in anything, much less ride a bike without brakes at break-neck speed in circles. It’s also not helpful, to my point of view, that the nearest place to compete, in any discipline, is more than 20 miles away. The velodrome, one of only two in Colorado, is an hour away. The big, competitive Olympic velodrome, which is covered this time of year, is more than 100 miles, about three hours, from us. I don’t dare to dream of getting there to merely train.
I realize that this is not something that is going to help my family, other than making me smile and satisfing my competition cravings. It will take creativity to pursue racing, of any sort. It will take a bit of thought and planning to strike a balance between the sport I enjoy and the family I love. This will cause bumps, but they are bumps I am willing to suffer. I’m sure that I’m not the first cyclist to have these issues. I will let you know if I figure anything out.
In the mean time, have fun, be safe. I’m going riding . . . on the trainer . . . at home.
So I’m cruising across my home state, singing with my family, heading back to our mountain home after my 30-year high school reunion. Realizing how good I have it. Great wife, great kid, great lifestyle. Life is better in so many ways than I imagined in the mid-’80s.
We are at the point in life in which our scars are more entertaining than our trophies. Some of us are still married to our first picks. Some are not. Some look better, some look well-fed. Most seemed pretty happy, though we also took a moment to remember those the class has lost since the last reunion, and found we will likely lose another before the next one.
By any measure, we are all at least to the halfway point of this crazy ride of life. None of us will be Olympians, hoist a professional sports champion trophy or compete at the Word Road Championships. We will all keep moving on. I hope to pick up something new.
Friends have suggested to me that I pick up track racing. In fact, a friend suggested this almost 20 years ago. Like so many things, I’ve been slow to take hints and help. At nearly 49, I plan to spend this autumn learning the finer points of fixed-gear racing.
I’m taking the advice of my lovely wife and not comparing myself to today’s pros, heroes of the past or even my own peers. It’s just me vs me. Not the me I was 20 or 30 years ago, or the athlete I could have been, but the best me I can be right now. This should be fun
So, let’s shake off the tough moments from the first half, try to learn a little something and apply that to the second half. Laugh and learn from the mistakes. Be grateful for the experiences. Be grateful that I got this far. Hang on and smile. The next half should be entertaining, as well.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.