I initially took up endurance cycling as a diversion from the challenges I was experiencing with my business as door after door of opportunity seemed to be closing on it.
I knew I needed a change, something very different, something that demanded very little from the outside world. I’d been riding my bike more in recent weeks in pursuit of greater fitness for my primary sport of windsurfing. One evening I was browsing cycling and bike topics online when I read about the Transcontinental Race.
“Ping” a light went on inside. “Wow, now that’d be an adventure!”
The idea just wouldn’t leave me. I knew that the time and cost of the TCR, let alone my lack of experience, meant that it was not the best event to target first off but then I read of the Transatlantic Way Race and signed up! The rest is history.
Riding long distances has taught me a lot and sometimes, in my more reflective moments I consider how it equates to the challenges of our daily lives.
When you sign up for an ultra race you are consciously choosing to stretch your usual physical limits, very consciously. That makes a difference, the fact that it’s a conscious choice.
You know you’re going to be stretched, face hardships and discomfort, wonder why you ever signed up in the first place but, yet, you press on regardless. Along the way you experience great kindness from strangers, share special moments with other riders, briefly swear never again. Life is simplified to a moment to moment existence of move drink, feed, rest.
At times things make break, or you take a wrong turn or physical pain hampers progress. A point may arise when you feel you have no option other than to abandon the race but even then you feel better for the experience.
I’ve tended not to be so pragmatic when dealing with the challenges of daily life with people being people and being inconsistent, dishonest, selfish, unreasonable, awkward and any number of other things. I can feel thwarted, hard done by, powerless, frustrated, angry, depressed even.
Of course people can be and in fact mostly are, all manner of lovely but during the times when life seems a chore then its the other negative sides that fall deeper into focus.
Ultra cycling is helping me balance my outlook on life by acting as a metaphor for a different approach. I choose to ride far and to face whatever challenges that throws my way and I accept those challenges with grace, primarily because I consciously chose to take them on. I never expected it to be easy.
In life I’ve often tended to feel that I’ve had no choice, that life was just something that happens to me like it or not.
How would it be if I chose to approach life as if it was all an adventure that I’d truly chosen to undertake rather than one that I just somehow got lumbered with?
The change in approach makes a significant difference, obstacles now become opportunities, problems offer solutions, the line between good and bad experience softens, it’s all just experience, the making of it into good or bad is down solely to our perspective, life just is.
Ultra cycling just is, make of it what you will.