Monday, February 13, 2012
Why I ride
Today was a interesting day on my morning ride that has left me in a bit of quandary for most of the morning as I thought about what happened. I was on a typical training ride, today was a part of the course that had some 5000 feet of climbing in less than 30 miles. There were some mild hills along the route but were fairly steep. I was in my typical teeth gnashing head down type of mode of climbing till I arrived at the crest of a hill then would bang out the gears and try and eek out the fastest possible speed on the descent in order to get up as high as possible for the next climb. The weather was very cool and overcast for a socal day and the roads had a bit of moisture on them from the scattered sprinkles of rain throughout the morning.
I was riding through a fairly built residential area along the route and bombing down a descent when I came onto a cyclist sitting in the bushes at the bottom of a hill on a tight turn in the road. I laid on the brakes to investigate and found a bike down the hill and the cyclist sitting with head in hands. I got off the bike and walked down the hill while catching a glimpse of the riders mishap. I could see that the rider had locked up the brakes on the slick road and had went straight off the side of the road into the little brush covered draw. It had appeared from the marks in the leaves and dirt that the rider went over the bars and probably took a pretty good header (something I do on a regular basis on the mountain bike) I called out to the cyclist as I was navigating down the little drainage and asked “are you ok?”
In retrospect I should have rephrased my question to “are you hurt?” but apparently if you throw out the term “are you ok?” you will be downloaded with every major problem that anyone is going through at that moment in their life.
The rider in question was a 22 year old girl that was currently enrolled into the local college and was on her first ride with her newly purchased road bike and was (up to this point) very excited about joining the schools cycling team. As she was telling me her life problems and how stupid she felt I was looking over her bumps and scrapes and could see she was fine and the only thing she injured was her pride. In the next 30 minutes I listening to how many problems she had, how difficult things were and why is was such a battle for her to even get all this off her chest. In typical male fashion I was doing the head nod and the proverbial assortment of replies such as “uh huh, yep, I hear ya,”
I was starting to cool off from my training ride and wanting to get back on the bike before it rained and kinda switched into military mode and told her “let’s talk on the bikes” and proceeded to walk back up the hill. In my mind I was trying to put myself in her shoes when I first started cycling and the trials and tribulations I went through in order to help her identify that she wasn’t alone. I was contemplating what to say that would motivate this gal to get her ass back on the bike and just drive through whatever she was dealing with and realize it’s not that big of a deal, people crash, it happens. But apparently I didn’t need to prep myself for a pep talk. As I turned around she had read the back of my jersey following me back to the road. I happened to be wearing one of my wounded warrior project jerseys that I got from a soldier ride several years ago. I got on my bike and was waiting for her to get clipped in and rolling and then she started chuckling and apologizing to me. She pulled out her cell phone and made a call saying that she didn’t need a ride after and the bike was fine and she was going to finish off the ride.
Once we were riding again and everything seemed to be back in order she had asked me if I had a blog and was training for the RAAM. I said yeah why? Apparently she has been following the blog after a Google search using the terms “race training” and had read the whole thing and was riding on the particular course after seeing my links from the RAAM site. She told me that she felt so stupid after telling me all her problems and thinking it was so bad not to continue riding after her little mishap.
She asked about my story and we basically chatted about specific challenges and peoples resolve to complete goals and I was giving out some braking tips so she wouldn’t face plant again.
As we parted ways I was thinking about the challenges that young divorced single mom/ working college student had and it isn’t any different than mine but it is a challenge of epic proportion to her. Instead I was inspired by her story. I have never thought of myself as an inspiration to others, nor do I feel comfortable thinking of myself as a role model. I ride for myself, I don’t ride for fitness and I don’t ride for the finish line. I ride for the journey; I ride because I was told I couldn’t. I am training for this race because there are none like it and I was told by many I couldn’t. I get more satisfaction in doing things I was told I couldn’t accomplish or wouldn’t be able to physically complete. I don’t ride for the inspiration or the publicity, I blog only to keep a journal for myself not to encourage others or be an example of triumph. Apparently it is after this morning’s ride but that was not my intention. There are a lot more astonishing stories than mine and I am very blessed to be in the place in life that I am in.
I simply ride because it is something I enjoy to after being told I couldn’t.