There is part of me that wants to throw this whole blog out the window (♫the window, the window♪, I’ll throw it out the window♫) and move on. If I’m not writing this blog then I won’t feel obligated to ride my bike anymore. I can just stop being obsessed and find some other obsession. That worked with climbing. I stopped climbing, there was a long recovery period when I thought I wanted to go back to obsessing over climbing all the time, and eventually I let it go. For cycling.
So I could replace cycling in my life with climbing. I did ask my wife if I could be obsessed with climbing again. She said no. Though…she is itching for a good climbing road trip like me. North Carolina, baby!
Or I could replace cycling with hiking. Maybe backpacking. Whitewater paddling. Nature photography. Catching up on my reading. Or writing. Or eating.
Nah, I’m not really sure I could replace cycling with any of those other activities. The difference is that cycling has been less about recreation in my life than these other things. It’s been about resilience and freedom. It’s been about saving money, taking more time, and staying healthy. It’s been about family. It’s been about solitude. It’s been about sanity and salvation. Of all those other activities all I can say is that they were primarily just temporary diversions to help me continue to avoid looking my problems in the eyes.
Cycling has given me the courage to look into some of those eyes and stare them down. Not all of them, mind you, but some. Cycling has been a solution to some of my problems. It’s created some problems too, but usually only minor problems that challenged me to be more innovative and adventurous. Like when I signed up for the Sustainable Practices Program in Boulder and had a 40 mile round trip commute up to Boulder and back to Arvada…it was a problem, but it helped me to see greater possibilities.
I can’t easily replace the void cycling fills in my life. Riding my bike soothes me. It inspires me. It gives me something to look forward to in difficult times. It challenges me. It boosts my confidence and morale. It’s an escape, but also a means to find my way.
There are times that cycling detracts from other aspects of my life. It’s not cycling that is the problem in those cases, but my innate obsessive behavior is. Climbing wasn’t really a problem in my life. The problem was that I could find nothing other than climbing with which to fill my time, and I didn’t want to try and find anything else. I just wanted to climb.
With cycling I’ve found an activity that allows me to pursue other life activities in conjunction with my obsession, and therefore it doesn’t detract as much as other purely recreational pursuits have in my life. I could ride my bike on trails and still be commuting to work. I could haul my daughter to the babysitter and still be getting in a good ride. I could run to the hardware store for supplies and get in a few extra miles on the bike. My commutes were my workouts. My errands provided moving scenery to an overactive sensory seeker. Each outing on the bike was a mini-adventure that provided me the slightest of escapes and prolonged a breakdown.
I’m primarily speaking of the last couple of years in Colorado. Though, in some ways this still all applies. I don’t fare so well as a cubicle-dweller no matter which time zone I inhabit. There are still problems I refuse to acknowledge.
So the question becomes: where do I want to be in five years? Who…do I want to be? What do I want to learn in the next five years? What do I want to accomplish? Five years ago I wouldn’t have imagined I’d be back in Kentucky. I wasn’t certain I’d be in Colorado, but I’d have bet an orphan’s crutch that I’d not be back living in the same house on the same road in the same county in the same state. And yet here we are…Providence cleared a path for our Triumphant Return.
We talk about either never moving again or moving soon to a home closer to my job. Both of those things could be decided within the next five years. Or maybe neither will become a reality. Maybe some other factor will arise and will conduct us to Oz, or Whoopflarea, or New Hampshire. I’m done making assertions about my life. At this point—at nearly 40 years old—I have no idea where I’m going or even where I want to go anymore.
Don't worry about me. This level of doubt was rampant in my posts from this time last year, as the last month before Leadville cranked along. It took my mind-numbingly amazing Rollins Pass ride to bust me out of my funk. I'm a bit freaked out as The Moment of Truth approaches. Maybe I'll settle down once we get back home after I make off with a big silver belt buckle.
Ultimately all that matters is that my family is safe, happy, and has their basic needs met. If I can accomplish this through the end of my days I will be successful and happy. And hopefully I’ll finally find contentment in some place, whether it be where I am now, or in some new Xanadu down the road. Regardless, I know I have to carry with me the things I’ve learned, and not forget what experience and perspective have taught me about living life.
There are shadows down the path ahead. I can't see exactly where I'm going, and I think I've learned to just let off the brakes and go with it. At least I hope that was the lesson I should have learned.
“Keep your hat on. We may end up miles from here.” (Reportedly this was the punchline to Kurt Vonnegut’s favorite dirty joke, but the joke is never told)
UPDATE: Since I composed this (yesterday) there has been a small new development in our community involvement, more to come on that in the very near future!