Quasi existentialist crisis

Posted: June 22, 2011 in 2011, General

Tuesday night is one of my designated ‘riding nights’. I look forward to Tuesdays as I can get out for a ride, enjoy the outside and clear my head, albeit temporarily, of the trials and tribulations of modern life. Last night I had made a loose arrangement to meet at FR7 and go for a gentle ride around the forest. This would have suited me down to the ground as the effects of a week long, dodgy belly were still upon me and I knew I would be unable to push it too hard.

As it happened, I allowed myself to be seduced into the embrace of Tuesday night racing. Mentioned before, this is an informal affair centred around FR7. No names, no pack drill, just get out and give it your best, or worst or whatever. Once upon a time I found these exhilarating and gave some sort of form to my riding. Descartes would have been proud of me, ‘I race, therefore I am’. Without racing, my cycling would drift into formlessness and eventually atrophy and die. Anyway, I digress; last night was a glorious evening, the sun was out, the sky clear, there was a stiff breeze but nothing unmanageable, in short conditions were pretty ideal. I did a half circuit and then wandered back to the start and joined in the the start line banter, catching up with old friends and generally soaking up the atmosphere.

As usual, the start was a low key affair, a muffled ‘well let’s get going then’ and we were off. So far so good, the first corner negotiated, the long straight and then into the gloom of the singletrack, through the ‘washing machine’ and into more gloom. The trails were riding well, firm but moist and I was a couple of lengths off up the leading pack – a bit of extra effort and I’d be on terms…and then it happened. I was hit by an overwhelming desire not to be there, not to be wasting my time riding round in dusty circles. The whole ethos of putting myself through extended discomfort ultimately proving nothing, seemed utterly pointless. I fought against it a while longer and then gave up letting everyone through, stepping down several gears and heading off for an extended warm down. Even my favourite singletrack section failed to lift my spirits so I headed back to the car, packed up and reflected. Right then, I had finished with racing, with riding, with bikes completely. If I couldn’t race, what was the point of riding? Why spend so much time and money on something that lead nowhere?

The answer of course was simple, I am not defined by the desire to pit myself against others riding round dusty/muddy courses. I can ride for the love of it and the company of friends who have similar ideals. However you look at it, last night’s revelation was that I am done with racing, I am no longer in its’ thrall, the spell is broken. If anyone sees me on the start line of a race you have my permission to shoot me (metaphorically of course!).

Now I can move on, ride for pleasure (not necessarily slowly) and slough the dead monkey from my shoulders. Today is another day, a new beginning.

I ride my bike, therefore I am!

  1. Ady says:

    This post rings so true to me ,i gave up racing a while back and also gave up bikes for a couple of years .
    Back in the saddle now but just ride when i want and enjoy it a whole lot more . im not as fit or as fast as i once was but enjoy it so much more
    And its amazing how much more relaxing a ride is without thinking about lap time /heart rate etc .
    But take my hat of to the guys who are still racing and bloody quick with it at the end of the day as long as it makes you happy and sane just enjoy being on the bike as we could be so much more worse off

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