With everything life throws at you, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Two months ago, I couldn’t muster up the courage to get out of bed, let alone throw my leg over the bike. I had lost the spark, and I wasn’t sure if I would find it again. My personal life had spilled over into my cycling, and the one thing that brought me so much joy seemed like a distant memory. I tried to stay on task and keep form, but my mind took over, and my heart was nowhere to be found. I quit two races in a row. And then someone gave me the toughest love I’d ever received.
I have to admit…it hurt. I didn’t respond to him for a while, partly because I knew he was right, but mostly because my ego had been shattered. Not only was I trying to mend my broken spirit, but I now had to pick up the pieces of my physical failure. I allowed my mind to affect my physical body. I didn’t keep the commitment I had made with myself. Giving up was foreign to me, but I did so with such ease that it terrified me.
In the last month, I have had spent a lot of time working on myself from the inside out. I’m finding ways to funnel the negative energy into something I can use. Recently, the light bulb appeared over my head, and I finally gained some perspective. And last weekend I raced like I had something to prove to myself. It felt good.
When things get tough, we tend to give in. We can sometimes lose our sense of direction, fall victim to our thoughts, and lose interest in those things that bring us joy. I had to ask myself, “Why do I ride?” “Why do I race?” More importantly, “Why am I letting my brokenness dictate how my physical body performs?”
I recently stumbled upon an article that really struck a chord with me.
“Playing out the drama of life every weekend on the bike is an outlet for me for that energy. It gives the fabric of my life some substance, makes it richer, and allows me to play the game of trying to control the uncontrollable. The lessons I learn on the bike are lessons I’m able to apply to the world as a whole. I can express aggressive sides of my personality in the races; sides of me that I want to keep separate from the way I treat people in “real life.” In a nutshell, racing keeps me sane. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel a full range of emotions when I race, or get depressed about how things are going on the bike. But that range of emotions is part of what makes me feel alive.”
Why would I allow myself to deny the very thing I am? Alive. I feel so hard in “real life”. My curse is also a blessing, because it gives me a chance to pour myself into the bike. Bike racing has given me an opportunity to funnel my energy, both positive and negative, into something more tangible than a feeling. It’s fuel for my most inner being. I can play out my heartbreak. I can let my anger explode through my legs as if they were on fire. I can take my heart, put it on my sleeve, and not be worried about who sees it. My raw emotion sweats out of my body. My soul shines on the outside.
It’s just something I can’t really put into words, but I feel it. I think that’s why there is a special bond between those of us who race ‘cross. It’s just there, and we can’t explain it, and it burns inside of each one of us. We get to express our true identity…and it’s OKAY.
Ask yourself why. Don’t let anyone or anything take it away from you. When you pull up to the start line, forget about everything around you, and let your legs express how you feel inside.
Don’t be asleep at the wheel.