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.