Saturday, July 25, 2009

Through Tough Times

At the outset, Kent said this about Veloquent...

"The idea behind Veloquent is good writing about good riding."

This collaboration of authors has done just that. Still, it appears that the skilled writers who were invited to contribute to this blog have focused recently on their own individual, and wildly popular, blogs. As someone who is not a blog celebrity, I don't have an obligation to an adoring public, so I'll take this opportunity to challenge the other authors to share their skills here. Consider this post a creative writing assignment.

The topic is "How riding a bicycle helped me through a tough time". Most of us have been through some tough times. As cyclists, surely the bicycle, in some form, served as a coping mechanism. Write about it. Perhaps, you'll find you have something in common with others in this community. Maybe, you'll develop a new appreciation for your time on two wheels. Best of all, you might even help someone who is struggling at this moment. Wouldn't that be grand?

The following is my pump primer...

It wasn't the bicycle exclusively. It wasn't even the bicycle most of all. In all honesty it was God and people who helped the most. A network of family and friends were invaluable, and my wife was the greatest earthly comfort of all. That said, my time on the bicycle provided a key ingredient and helped me mentally, emotionally, and physically through my two plus years of hell.

I'll not go into details. That is a another story for another time. I'll simply say that it involved violence, checking a loved one into psychiatric hospitals in the middle of the night, ambulance rides, confusion, loss of sleep, worry, family strife, anxiety, relocating to a different part of the state, and struggling to find ways to love more than I had the capacity to love. Compared to anything before, or since, it is the only truly difficult thing I've ever faced. During this time, my use of the bicycle was transformed.

Before the great turmoil, the bicycle was an instrument of training. During my struggles, it was a coping strategy. When life was easy, I had cycling objectives and I trained my body to meet them. When I struggled to get through each day, cycling was a short reward for surviving a little bit longer. My longer rides were less about a higher average speed or another set of intervals, and more about clearing my head, making difficult decisions, and shedding stress...or tears. I began to grab short pockets of time, even 5 or 10 minutes, to go outside and ride circles in the cul-de-sac in front of my house. In those precious longer rides that came less often, I remember feeling my legs pumping endorphines into my system. When I returned, I figured I could somehow make it through the next real challenge.

The worst of those 2 years is behind me now, but that time taught me something about what love is and the importance of people. I ride my bicycle more frequently now than ever, but it distracts from my obligations to people less than it once did. I'm not as fit and I'm not as fast, but in this more healthy balance I've found, I enjoy the bike more than ever. So when the minor frustrations (or even crisis moments) of life arise, I have learned first hand that the bicycle is good medicine.

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