If all of life, whether consciously or not, is a search for meaning, then each ride, consciously or not, is a search for meaning. We have fun here. We talk about frivolous things like shoes or the weirdest place you’ve ever worn cycling kit. We burn through words and pixels contemplating things like proper sock height and the best way to wrap handlebars. But underlying all that is this practice of riding that, I think we can all agree, informs our lives in evolving and curious ways.
Padraig is, of course, off the front on this, but I don’t think you need to pedal the back roads of remotest Japan to see something deeper in riding bikes. Who was it, Jean Bobet, I think, who pointed out the absurdity of leaving home, exerting great effort, eventually arriving back at home? What do we get from testing ourselves? And when does it arrive?
Riding can be like a walking meditation, each pedal stroke deliberate, the mind turning inward, calming itself, resting. Sometimes we get away, free ourselves temporarily of life’s responsibilities. The trees roll by. The sun shines. We remind ourselves that the world is bigger than our small worries.
I sat through a stretch of doctor’s appointments yesterday with my father, whose body is breaking down. The radiologist was a cyclist, and we exchanged brief cycling pleasantries. My dad said that I rode in all weather, that I was crazy, that I spend crazy sums on bikes, and I thought, “Without cycling I can’t be sitting here. I can’t be helpful. I can’t bear this process. But I ride, so I am here. I can sit. I can do this.”
This week’s Group Ride asks, where do you find meaning on the bike? Does it come easily or only after a lot of work? Are epiphanies more likely when you’re alone, or with friends? Or is this just not what you ride for? Why DO you ride?