So, I have been at this riding thing for over two years and poking away at the Team Boris concept for almost as long. We started riding for a few months before Team Boris was hatched and for most of the time and effort it has been heads down, all hands on deck and full speed ahead. This has served whatever undefined purpose I had pretty darn well. And for the most part still serves the team and me pretty darn well. It allows us to move the mission forward which up to this pint has been to ride our bikes back and forth, up and down in basically a straight line. By doing this we are blessed with the ability to tune out with miraculous ease all the things we were riding from and focus on all the things we are riding towards.
I have had in recent weeks both a blessing and a roadblock that has given me the opportunity to take a momentary break and do some looking inward. Besides all the soft, warm and gooey stuff I noted on the “inward” view there were also a few things that I noted that I needed to get clarity on. Clarity and prioritization.
Kathy has been my steadfast partner throughout this process even on the days she could not ride or the miles she chose to not ride she has always been in my corner rooting me on and continues to do so to this very moment (as she sleeps and I write). As all of you know, cause I write about it pretty frequently Kathy’s mom’s health has been in a pretty steady free-fall for about two years now. Some might remember our ill-fated trip to Provence to do a little cycling. Things did not work out entirely as planned. We did get to spend a few days in the south of France and did get to meet-up with Team Boris member Bill who came over to vacation with us but one day after our first small bike ride we were home bound to care for Kathy’s mom who ended up with a hospital admission.
After that there have been a few more episodes and Kathy has had to devote more time to being in Gainesville which has impacted her riding time immensely.
When I ride on the weekends she is away I am torn. I know I am needed to be here to take care of things but to tell the truth as I ride I do so with a sense of missing riding with Kathy and the thought of I should be doing more to help. Turns out there is nothing else to do other than keeping the house from burning down and preventing the cats from ordering thousands of dollars worth of cat-nip toys from Kitty-Amazon.com
Life slips in and has a way of exerting it’s will upon situations no matter how much we effort we put into ignoring it. With the Gainesville situation being fluid and ever changing Kathy found herself again traveling north to help out every weekend for the months of April and May. Big demands, big exhaustion.
It was this period of time that presented me with my big fork in the road moment. It would be the first of many. I was entered to race the Leadville 50 and 100 trail MTB race but with what was going on with Kathy it would have been pure selfishness on my part to head off to Colorado to train for the three months leading up to the races. Leadville is a bike race and what Kathy is dealing with is real life. Done deal. I spoke with the Leadville folks and they graciously and compassionately granted me entre into next year’s races. Kindness. I was planning my racing/riding/event schedule for 2013 and decided to pretty much mirror my postponed 2012 season, nuff said.
Bringing things to the more here and now the past few weeks have been tough. I finally fulminated something last weekend that bonked me pretty darn hard but I could feel it coming on for a few weeks before that. Sleep has been very tough the last month or two. I work nights and usually sleep pretty well during the day but for a few weeks I have been getting by on 3-4 hours a day which made for sleepy weekends. This weekend found some nutty weather making claims of wild winds and some rain. Never saw the rain and I think the winds might have been less than advertised, oh-well. Saturday night had us visiting with family from out of town and ending up dealing with/discussing some long-standing and unresolved issues (like every family). Which is why I am up and writing this at 4:18 AM.
Now back to the subject of why we ride. Friendship, fitness, fun, competition and all the rest. We start with one thing getting us mounted up and turning cranks and after a few months and a few hundred miles we hear the siren song of something different. “Ride the hills,” “Ride the off-road trails,” “Race.” Pick one, all, some or none. It is just something has got to be stirring to get us up at 6 AM on a Saturday morning to ride a bike. There is a magical force that brings to the bike shop and encourages us to spend more on our next bike than we did on our first car (without guilt). Something has us putting on spandex. We get motivated and focused and we ride. We ride like maniacs some days and poke along smelling the roses other days. Some days we fall and break our wrists and have surgery but get right back on the bike as soon as the doctor says it is alright. We get motivated and we work ourselves nutty staying that way. But, sometimes through all of this we need to take a time out, step back and gain a little perspective.
Family is more important than a bike ride or race. If we ignore our bodies they will remind us we ignored them and will send clear messages. Time spent off the bike can give you the opportunity to take a mental and physical inventory and patch up what is needing patching and repair. It might surprise you what comes up when you decide to turn the volume down for a moment or two.
I love reading Selene Yeager and she rights of her race seasons and of her time off, sometimes months. She writes of flagging motivation and nagging injuries. She writes about being a mom and a wife and family and holidays. Her race bike will sit alone on the rollers while she does laundry and writes and trades her bike helmet for her wife/mom/daughter/friend/writer hat. She will write of missing her bike and of loathing her bike and after some time off she will write about loving her bike and her riding and her friends she rides with and all the rest. She lets us know that it is okay to take a day off.
Leadville is a race that will take me all of the next 10 months to prepare for. I have a coach I am working with and a pretty focused and demanding training schedule ahead of me. It is exactly this event and training that will direct my riding for the next almost year. It will mean some Saturdays I will be riding 100+ miles and other Saturdays I will be riding 40-50 miles. Also, on some Sundays I will be heading out to do mountain biking or hill repeats, whatever is on the training schedule. Everybody is welcomed to join me if you can tolerate the grunting, cursing and falling down.
The next year will be busy. I have my reasons for riding. We have friends and teammates who will be healing and getting back to the ride. There will be unforeseen things that will arise that we will handle as a team. There will be lots of fun and some great rides to take and hills to climb.
There will also be times when I get off the bike for a weekend and get some perspective and see where I have been and where I still need to go. I encourage you to do the same.
Peace and Bikes
Steve & Boris