B said, “You’re basically playing chicken with each other,” and I laughed because she was right. The night before Mike had texted me, “Kickstand at 10:30 tomorrow?” A meeting place and a ride time. Sitting on the couch, I glanced at the message, thought for a second and then replied. It’s easy to say yes to riding with a friend tomorrow. Tomorrow is the future.
A quick check of the weather suggested it would be 22F when we rolled out. I laughed and thought, “Shit, what have I done?”
I used to think I was tough. I used to believe in toughness. I thought the guys who rode Paris – Roubaix and Flanders were tough, but then I remembered they get paid to do it. They get paid a lot.
I used to ride through these Boston winters and think I was tough. But I’ve traded enough in toughness at this point to know that there’s a fine line between tough and stupid, and also that one person’s tough is another’s normal.
My ego used to need that stuff, that sense of superiority that comes from being dumb enough to do what others won’t. I turned it into motivation somehow, and I’m ok with that, even if I see it for what it was now. The point isn’t how you get out the door. It’s getting out the door to begin with. We all have to find our own motivation, but we don’t have to turn it in like homework, to be graded.
I enjoy pretty much every ride I take, whether it’s riding ‘cross bikes around the snowy woods on a Sunday with a friend or a rainy, windy commute.
I run warm, so I don’t feel uncomfortable in the cold. I have all this gear designed to make riding in frigid temperatures possible, and I’m just motivated to ride right now.
But the truth is, whatever I can do at 20F, I shudder to contemplate at 90F. I hate the hot. I am not tough in summertime. Anything north of 80F bums me out. I turn into a horrible whiner. So how tough could I be?
Willingness, though. Willingness can take you anywhere. One part faith, one part optimism, one part action. It’s like toughness, in a way, but it factors out the suffering. It cancels the idea, an idea I clung to, that martyring myself to the bike was somehow a worthy pursuit, which is a negative take on something that, for me, needs to stay fun if I’m going to keep doing it.
But, I’m in a good place with the bike right now. I stay willing, and it stays awesome.
Mike said to me the next day, out on the trail, “I was really hoping you were going to text back that it was too cold. Even an hour before we left, I was waiting for you to bail. But I’m glad we’re here. This is fun.”
I knew it would be.