The human heart gets an average of 2.5 billion beats in a lifetime...... how will you spend yours?
I'm sure at some point many of us cyclists have been asked "Why ride?". The knee-jerk answer is "Its fun" but looking deeper into the psyche of a cyclist will undoubtedly result in a much more complex answer. Some ride out of necessity, some for fun, and some fall in the middle ground between the two. Each cyclist has their own reasons. So I sat down and looked in the mirror, asking myself "Why ride?".
For me, cycling isn't a hobby or a pass time. It has been a way of life for me since I was very young and found the first spark of love for cycling by pedaling along deer paths in the woods. It was an escape for me, to be outdoors surrounded by nature, the sights and sounds of everything simple and pure. As I aged I became more and more aware of my own mortality and the fact that I wouldn't live forever, I wanted to get as much fun and personal happiness as I could in this life. I want to traverse the path less traveled, take the alternate route and stop to smell the roses. I want to find things hidden in plain sight that most people scurry by in their busy lives. I realized that sometimes to get the most out of life, you need to slow it down. Quantity does not equal quality and packing more into your day will not make lasting memories if you have to stay on schedule and can't stop to daydream or laugh a bit.
I've battled my own demons and used cycling as the cure. I've never spoken about it but I've suffered with depression and did a great job of hiding it from almost everyone I know. I've crashed head first into the dark tunnel and found the light at the other end, just to stumble into the darkness again. I've had the talks, taken the medications, but with the support and love of my wife and kids I've beaten the disease. I ride as often as I can because I know that I could slip into the darkness again. I'm a big guy and not scared of much but being trapped in your own head is tough sometimes when you can't help but think you are worthless. When I feel the cold damp fingers of depression reaching out again, a quick spin on the bike does wonders for my mind. I am committed to staying on top of it and using my life-long passion to battle it is a bonus. I was ashamed of myself but realize now that depression is a disease, and I can only hope that my coming out of the shadows will help lift the stigma surrounding it, or help someone else push on, to know that better days are ahead. I realized that on my darkest day, in my darkest hour, there is a light at the end and better days will come. Cycling has a way of melting away all your worries, fears, and poisonous thoughts. I've gone from thinking "I can't" to saying "I can" even if the odds are against me. Bicycles, for me, are the cure and the prevention.
I cannot just exist. Everyone needs some sort of driving force in their life that keeps their heart ticking, whether it be cycling, baseball, cars, etc. To have to just go to work and pay the bills, just doing enough to exist, would drive me back into that dark tunnel. Being outside and interacting with nature, whether by riding or camping or gently floating down the river in a canoe, gives me a sense of how small and insignificant a human life can be, or how wonderful and filled with joy and accomplishment it could be. To be out there and smell the pine needles, sit in the dirt, and gently drag your fingers across the bark of a hundred year old tree, gives meaning to our place in the world. Being outdoors in the forest isn't just existing, its living.
When I die I don't want to be filled with regrets. Regrets are made of unfulfilled dreams and expectations that where not met. I'm not concerned about being a person of great importance or remembered by many, I'm only concerned with being the best husband and father I can be and to do the things in life that bring me joy, even if faced with failure. I would rather try something and fail than to not try at all and be filled with regret when I've run out of time to live. I'm going to love my wife and kids with every ounce of my soul, I'm going to ride the trail I've never been on, take that road trip to a trail far away, spend the money on a new bike, all because when I've had my last breath I don't want to be wishing "I had" when right now, in this moment "I can". Too many people trade their time for money to buy things that won't matter in the end, because when you are at the edge of death the only thing that will matter are your memories and the ones that you've made with your loved ones and friends that they will carry on in their hearts.
So, in the end, my answer to "Why ride?" is simple.... to live. To keep my glass full and squeeze every drop that this short life has to offer. To look up at the stars knowing just how small and fleeting we all are in this vast universe, but to be satisfied with who I am. To know that in the end, I've done everything I could to make the best out of my time.
To many miles of dirt under your tires, and memories made along the way.
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.