Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Pause for Reflection --

So, lately I've been feeling a little down about racing my bike. A little burned out is probably more appropriate, and I hear it's a pretty common affliction among bike racers. Fitness, or "form," which Hunter Allen defines as the combination of fitness and freshness, is a fleeting thing, ebbing and flowing daily. But it's an addiction, too: once we've felt the peak of form, which by definition cannot be sustained, we're always striving to return there, to reach higher, not just go faster but feel faster. Fatigue took the edge off of my form several weeks ago, and it's just now coming round that bend and turning back upwards. It's pretty discouraging to try to stomp on the pedals like you did before, but have no fire in the engine room, no juice in the bottle. O my legs, why have you forsaken me?

But, I read this update on Ryan Mcknab's weblog today that Kenji also posted about. It started like this: "I tied both shoes today..." For those who don't know, Ryan is an Oregon-based bike racer who sustained a serious head injury in a bike racing crash not too long ago. In a fashion similar to Saul Raisin, it was feared for a time he wouldn't make it, but he pulled through.

There's always suffering in the world greater than yours, like I've said before, and there's no way to be healthy and let it all in.

Yet still -- when I'm moping about not quite having the race results I strive for, and I read "today I tied my shoes," I can't help but take a step back and pause for breath.

What the hell would I do in THOSE shoes?

Tie them, I guess.

Would I be happy about it? Would I be able to smile and think, "wow, this is great, I achieved something that I couldn't do yesterday?" People show all kinds of strength and adversity, and it sometimes leaves me to wonder about my own character. I've never experienced that sort of adversity. There's simply no way for me to process it. But in admiring the strength of a stranger in times more trying than my own, I can at least look down at my legs and think a little differently about them.

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