Dead Tired

Before I make this about me, as I always do, I want to give credit to Roberto Ballini, who is pictured here sunning himself against nothing less morbid than a gravestone during the 1971 Tour de France, presumably in protest to how much of a shitshow The Prophet was making of the race.

But let’s be honest: being tired is the best part of Cycling. To begin with, going for a ride and not coming back at least a little bit tired is entirely unrewarding, unless you happen to be a Recovery Ride Specialist. I do enjoy a recovery ride and the satisfaction of coming home feeling light and loose and not at all tired, but anything representing a real ride needs to leave something behind in the body, something tangible that reminds us of the work we put in. It doesn’t have to be devastating by any means, but we should feel the ride somewhere in our being.

I struggle with depression a bit. I’m an introvert in an extroverted world who writes publicly (here, in Cyclist, and now also for Rouleur) about his love for Cycling. The shock for me is that Cycling and writing are my greatest passions, and they have miraculously come together to lay the foundation for this incredible worldwide community in the Cycling world – something I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams.

The irony is that when either the writing or the Cycling doesn’t come, I start to come apart at the seams. When they fall apart, I fall apart as well.

I suppose I’ve been an athlete and an artist my whole life, but it takes some time for you to find your specific medium in both these areas. It may well be a “calling”, but life can throw its voice like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I found Cycling by way of Nordic Skiing, and I found writing by way of Cycling. Which is another way of saying I have been using Cycling to aide my ills much longer than I have been using Writing to do so.

I don’t know much about fixing Writers Block, but I have learned a thing or two about using the bike to fix almost anything else: Sometimes you just have to ride until you can’t ride anymore. Run it until the mind has nothing left to think about but getting home. When I had been off the bike (Holidays?) and stopped writing (Holidays?), I fell back into that familiar darkness (Holidays?). So after (too many days) I realized what I needed to do: get on the bike and pedal. So I did. I rode through a terrible cold I didn’t expect; the kind of cold that freezes your fingers and toes to the point you don’t feel them properly for weeks.

It worked. I felt alive again. Facing the prospect of riding home through those conditions reminded me that I could face anything. Getting home reminded me that I can not only face but conquer anything. It didn’t cure me of my dragons, they will be back, but it turned the tide on the emotional experience I was having and that is one of the things Cycling has come to mean for me over the years.

Every day when I go out on my bike, I risk my life. But I risk more by not going out on my bike. The bike has saved my life so many times that I’m forever in its debt.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

 

 

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66 Replies to “Dead Tired”

  1. “When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”   Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  2. @rfreese888

    “When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    Glad to see Sir Arthur was a purveyor of Rule #6.

  3. @Rick

    @rfreese888

    “When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    Glad to see Sir Arthur was a purveyor of Rule #6.

    And he was an ophthalmologist as well!  (and also seemed to think and speak (and type) in all capitals, just like me!!!)

  4. @Rick

    A google search of this quote brought up not only Doyle, but many tortured souls like those of us who seek relief from the tyranny of our daily lives through self-inflicted pain in the saddle. I have on my business website “About Us” a blurb about my lifelong love of riding which helps me in my work:

    “David does some of his best design work while out for a ride.”

    Check out some other visdom: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/recreational-cycling/20-quotes-that-capture-the-beauty-and-brutality-of-cycling/

  5. I haven’t really used a car since the early aughts. These days I have to in order to drop my 8 month old son off at the sitter. I’m lucky in that I can easily park and pull my bike out of the back of my truck, then ride to work. Some days, when it’s cold or wet, I think it’ll be easier to just drive to work. After mere minutes of dealing with a-hole motorists, I curse the decision.

    Being on a bicycle is the easiest, simplest joy in my life. Damn, it keeps the heart and body young!

    Ride on, everyone!!

  6. @David Beers

    @Rick

    A google search of this quote brought up not only Doyle, but many tortured souls like those of us who seek relief from the tyranny of our daily lives through self-inflicted pain in the saddle. I have on my business website “About Us” a blurb about my lifelong love of riding which helps me in my work:

    “David does some of his best design work while out for a ride.”

    Check out some other visdom: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/recreational-cycling/20-quotes-that-capture-the-beauty-and-brutality-of-cycling/

    Years ago, when grad school and family responsibilities took a major bite out of my riding time, I would occasionally face learning block. I would stare at the words but see nothing but black ink on white pages. No meaning would would make it from those pages to my overworked brain.

    In these times there was only one thing to do. Saddle up, and ride. Every single time that I relaxed my brain and thought only of the ride, the solution to whatever academic question would come to me. Like a beacon in the night the answer would come to me whilst I turned over the pedals.

    Through the tough times in my life, I could always count on cycling to raise my spirits. The pain of divorce, the anger over a lost job could paralyze me at times. Riding helped me cope and brought me back to the living.

    I was devastated when I had to give up marathoning in my 20’s. I bought my first road bike to stay in shape but I really didn’t think I would stick with it. Thank The Lord that I bought that bike. My life would be a much less enjoyable place without the pain that our sport can (and does) dish out.

  7. @Rick

    @Rick how did you know? 5 Months ago, my wife of 37 years walked out on me; tallying up our assets she told the lawyers about my bikes, to put their value against the jewelry, art and antiques she took with her. Sure, the bikes have more value to me than is rational (see Rule #11), but in the harsh light of the accountant’s spreadsheets they don’t add up to much. What a cruel joke that she had encouraged me last year to insure them at replacement value.

  8. @David Beers

    That sucks about your wife. Sorry to hear about that. Glad to hear your bikes got you a little bit of sweet justice. And know you have friends (even if you’ve never met them) here for support.

  9. As an antithesis to “dead tired” and “winter blues” (for those of us in the northern hemisphere), I’m actually largely the opposite … surprisingly rejuvenated and refreshed. Part of that is the result of decided to join the gym in my ‘hood and lift weights (probably the first time in 20+ years I’ve done any “serious” lifting). Not with any real purpose but as something to do (OK, I’m hoping I gain a little leg strength in the off season). But more because I joined this local winter team competition called Freezing Saddles.  https://freezingsaddles.com/  A fun way to keep motivated to ride. The vast majority of the participants are anything but Velominati but a really good and fun group of people. Riders of all different abilities on all sorts of different bikes. Folks from different walks of life. Lots of being social. Lots of “stupid” stuff, e.g., like who can ride the most one mile rides (called sleaze rides). But there’s method in that madness because the first mile of your first ride of the day (a lot of commuters) is worth 10 points. So I’m actually motivated to hop on my mountain bike and ride a mile in my ‘hood just for the 10 points to help my team if that’s all I have time to do given work, family, etc. But somehow in the process I’ve racked up more than twice as many miles as I rode last January!

     

  10. Many articles on here resonate with at least part of me.

    This one resonated with all of me. Amen.

  11. Yowzers, my wife, my 9-month old, and myself have all been sick for around three weeks now. Chest cold and cough, not bad, just plain annoying at this point. The little guy had a virus and was upchucking for around 4 days. That was not fun!

    Riding beyond commuting just kills my lungs. Oh well, I have a major project and I’m determined to get it finished up by RvV roll-out…nothing like the Spring Classics as motivation to keep yer head down and hammer away at a big project!

  12. @Teocalli

    Hello,

    I would like to correct something. This is indeed not a gravestone, but not a town marker either. This is a kilometric marker (called “borne kilométrique” in French). Under the name of the town (Malesherbes in this case), hidden by Roberto Ballini, was written the number of kilometers to go before reaching Malesherbes.

     

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