C asked me how my ride was. I’d left work the night before, kitted and watered and hell bent on blowing off some steam. I went alone, as I often have to, simply based on when I can find time to pedal. There is a lot to be said for the solo, after work ride. It serves as a powerful purgative (purgatory?) for the day’s stresses, and the more so when you’re not just transporting yourself from point A to point B. I have been know to complicate the restorative properties of a ride by feeling like I need to race home.
I very seldom actually need to race home.
I am fortunate in that way, but also in the fact that there is a fun, semi-technical dirt route home that spans 18 miles and, via it’s rough edges and sinuous curves, guarantees to slough off any negative attitudes you might have brought along with you.
So how was my ride? It was life changing. I smiled at C, and I said, “Well, I’m only racing myself, and mostly, I still win.” And he said, “We’re all just racing death, my friend,” and we both laughed, because that’s true, but also on a deeper level, because we know we’re losing.
This got me thinking about racing in general, the ways I’ve beaten myself up for being slower than someone else. If, at root, we’re all just racing death, racing itself is absurd, and there’s no point getting worked up about it. It’d be easy to get bummed out about this, except that I find it tremendously relaxing. It doesn’t mean I can’t/won’t race, but it does mean I’ll probably enjoy losing more.
There is a lot to measure yourself against on the bike, other people, their times, your own times, the reaper. Competition can be tremendously motivating or often enough, discouraging. This week’s Group Ride asks, who are you competing with? And how are you doing?