Team Lotto Willunga hIll 2011.


admin Thoughts 5 Comments

As I stood at the kitchen sink late last night, washing up the last of the dishes after everyone had gone to bed, I was struck for reasons unknown by the lack of real honesty in my daily life, both in others around me and in myself and it made me sad. I was tired, physically and mentally and I suddenly felt the accumulated fatigue of so many years being someone, not entirely myself and interacting with others doing the same. Even as I felt the bitter taste of this realisation in my mouth, I guessed that most people did it, sculpt themselves into shapes that allow them to negotiate the paths of their daily lives with minimal fuss, noise and disruption. I thought about how people sometimes presented themselves to me, clearly full of shit or at least delusional, yet I didn’t call them out on it because I just didn’t have the energy, or wanted to avoid a scene or both most likely.

For reasons I didn’t understand at the time, my mind then jumped across to cycling and filled with images of my regular riding mates and I slogging it out up the nearby hills on a Saturday morning. All of us, huffing and puffing, striving to get the most out of our bikes and bodies. It must look pretty strange and pointless to a non-cyclist, watching this procession of largely middle-aged people, almost killing themselves riding up hills. We certainly weren’t getting paid, there were no trophies or ribbons to be won, not even bragging rights. I often feel real pangs of fear as we approach some of the hills, knowing well how much it is going to hurt.

So why do so many of us do it, week in and week out? If you thought ‘for fitness’ you’d be partly right but fitness is really just a by-product of regular cycling and even if it’s a primary motivator when you first begin, it becomes less so once you are reasonably ‘fit’. You might think then that it’s ‘personal satisfaction’ of achieving goals, particularly extremely difficult ones. This is definitely a factor and until last night, I would have left it there, reasonably satisfied that you’d summed the addiction up, but yet still aware of a nagging gap in the logic, and this is the part I had not been able to articulate before.

I think that what motivates people, particularly people my age, to ride at the absolute limit of their capacity, despite the extreme discomfort of it, is that we see in others and express in ourselves, real honesty in these moments. For reasons I can only assume are deeply instinctual, I crave honesty and I find it on those hills on a Saturday morning. After it had sunk in, I shed a few tears into the dishwater as I found it very moving. In those moments, my weekday facade is gone, there’s no talking, posturing or manipulation going on, you just see me, simply and exactly how I truly am. And I see the others around me exactly as they truly are and this fills me with happiness.

Comments 5

  1. Graeme

    Brilliant. Great observation, though my cynicism of the human race leads me to believe that it may be less noble than that, in general. I think that this honesty may be more of a wonderful byproduct of cycling that can awaken in people a greater appreciation of certain things, than a motivator for most people. As we are clearly talking about recreational cycling here, I tend to think that what most people are after is to prove something to someone (most often themselves but not exclusively), to feel better about themselves in some way. This can be an honest, gratifying, and often a humbling experience, but this is also in a strange juxtaposition to the reality that most recreational cyclists who ride hard are also so concerned with having the best gear, the most stylish kit, etc, which isn’t wrong, but isn’t exactly seeing yourself as you truely are. But then, perhaps that just reinforces your point – that despite this, even while riding a bike you couldn’t possibly need and wearing kit that puts you in with the cool kids, cycling still has the power to cut through all of the posturing, the competitiveness, the ego, to leave you face to face with the natural world and your place in it.

    Or maybe I’m just extremely tired and should really go to bed…

    1. Post

      Hi Graeme, thanks very much for the thoughtful response. Indeed we are definitely talking about recreational cycling 😉 I expect that over time I will find motivating elements of differing kinds in cycling depending on what’s going on in other parts of my life. I think your last point is particularly good. I see myself differently with a serious race bike and flash kit, shaved legs etc. I honestly do. I feel differently about myself and I like this feeling. I also ride with others though that ride cheaper bikes, have hairy legs and blow my doors off every weekend. And that’s how they like to do it. None of it I believe is wrong, only right for each person. We all know the money we spend will have very little bearing on how fast we go, only how we feel.

  2. Jo

    I have a few tears reading this as well…. knowing, loving and respecting you as I do, it’s so great to hear you express yourself honestly and beautifully like this x

  3. Scott

    First, I stumbled onto your site and was rewarded reading your thoughts about honesty. I, too, have experienced similar thoughts. More specifically, I remember riding with a friend during an summer rain on roads that had shifted from tarmac to packed sand. Sheets of rain were falling, there was thunder in the distance, and we didn’t expect the change in roads, but we pedaled on with smiles on our faces. I had the sense that part of the honesty I felt during the ride was that we were participating in the natural world. Not observers and little insulation from the facts. During the ride, I remember feeling and saying that this is real, no bullshit attached, and it’s the reason I ride. I’ve forgotten many things, but we both remember that ride.

    1. Post

      Thanks for sharing that story Scott. I never quite knew till I’d had my ‘honesty’ moment why I felt jealous whenever I was in my car and I saw people riding in the pouring rain. I’ve done very little on the site the last year and I plan to reward you and others more often over summer 😉

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