Monday, June 28, 2010

Allez! Allez! Allez!

As promised, I’m going to inflict my love of cycling on you now. This is because cycling is awesome and because the Tour de France starts next weekend.

To be honest, I have no idea how I’m going to fit blogging into my life with all the Tour de France watching I’ll be doing in July. I mean, how on earth am I going to watch 8 hours of race coverage per day AND get some writing done AND still have time to neglect my kids?

In addition to watching the grand sport of cycling on television, I also ride. I ride because apparently I like to suffer, which is the heart and soul of what cycling is all about, assuming you’re doing it right. (I know. It doesn’t sound like fun, but trust me, it makes perfect sense when you’re out there on the road.)

As a matter of fact, just yesterday I was out for a ride. When I left home, I had a lot on my mind. Mundane troubles and some not so mundane ones. It was 99 degrees, and I was sweating like hell’s glassblower, and so I poured a bottle of water over my head while I was tooling along. This in itself is part of what I love about cycling. When in your life, can you say to yourself, you know what? I’m hot. I think I’ll just pour water over my head right now and then you do it and shake the excess off like a sheep dog. Then you just keep on moving.

By the time I got home, things didn’t seem so bad anymore.

It’s occurred to me many times in the last few years that the reason I love cycling so much is that nothing makes me feel like a kid again quite like riding my bike. You can just get on your bike and start cranking those pedals, and it all comes back to you. It’s like a time machine, really. At least it is for me.

And yes, of course, it's good exercise and all that. But it's so much more. It's therapy, too. And maybe a little philosophy thrown in for good measure. It's an attitude adjustment with spokes. I can ride away from my problems, at least for a while, and blast away whatever’s bugging me by totally focusing on turning those pedals and hauling my butt up a hill. To what end? There is no end. Because getting up that hill is all you can think about at that particular moment and the reason why is irrelevant. You just do it. And you do it hopefully without puking, but if that happens, well, then, you just rinse off your shoes and keep going.

I hope you have something like this in your life. Something that is pure and simple and totally absorbing. Something that you throw yourself into utterly, that makes you use up every ounce of what you’ve got. But somehow, when it’s done, you feel renewed. Joyful, even. Like nothing and no one can slow you down.