Like a sprinter on a long mountain stage, I’ve missed the cut off, Friday slipping into Saturday with a mix of work commitments, youth hockey and reset passwords. Collectively they were my Ventoux, my Alpe d’Huez, my Gavia, and I, out of shape for anything longer than 100m of full tilt chaos, let go the flickering end of the peloton and resigned myself to slinking across the line later. Welcome, my friends, to the (de facto) Saturday Group Ride.
It’s funny really, the way we see ourselves and the ways we actually are.
In my mind, I am a climber. I climb well. This may or may not be true. But, when I see myself in mid-summer form, the vision is of working my way up a long, slithering steep, companions slowly dropping away behind me. It’s a little narcissistic, a little romantic and a little delusional.
It’s not that I’m not a good climber. I guess I’m alright. It’s more that this is some sort of idealized self, a rider I know I can be, even if I never actually get there, because life presents the sort of obstacles that turn Friday into Saturday, because I’m not just a cyclist. I’m an employee, and a dad, and even occasionally a husband.
Perhaps my wife is the Gavia, immense in presence and beautiful to stare at, formidable, comically difficult to get over sometimes.
Here is the irony maybe. We are hell bent on destinations, finish lines. The fixed vision of myself as a great climber is a result I want to achieve. But the results are formed by the obstacles. There is no great climber without great climbs, no great lives without obstacles. I will complain about standing in another dimly lit hockey rink, slowly freezing, but these are the things that make me a father, that earn me my fatherhood.
This week’s Group Ride, delayed in part by the obstacles of growing into our new design, is about the things that stand in the way of cycling. What are your obstacles? We talk so much about struggling to find the time to ride, about trying to find the right balance between life’s commitments and escapades on the bike. What’s in your way? And are you ok with it? I have the keen sense that a job you don’t like is an obstacle you resent, whereas family time is an obstacle that enhances the net result, whatever that ends up being.
Image: Gavia Pass – Wikimedia