Sunday, August 12, 2007

mountain bike racing as a mirror of life

I did a lot or races in the 2005 season, and I finished pretty well. In 2006 I was diagnosed with a hamstring tear and did no racing at all, however, going into the season, before I knew I was injured, I was almost dreading it. I had, and still have, a little too much going on between the 2 jobs, the house, dogs, training, racing, gardening, cooking . . the list seems endless. Moreover, I have not had a lot of time to find creative outlets in my adult life and this has me wishing I could have made some different decisions regarding my choice of career. (read = I pretty much hate my job most of the time)

Yet I think back to those formative years in my teens and twenties and I wonder what I should have done differently. So what if I had asked for help when I needed it and taken advice from those with a bit more life experience than my own? What if I did not spend the majority of my twenties in the black abyss of depression? What if I had not met the man I spent 6 years of my late twenties/early thirties with who seemed so capable but was actually, quite, well, a mess. Was that totally wasted time, irrespective of all of the good times that we shared together?

And then there is cycling. What an effect that has had on my life. Racing mountain bikes is such a metaphor for life. Racing a bike over technical and grueling terrain for 2 to 3 hours at a time is the hardest physical task I have ever had to do; sometimes I cannot believe I actually volunteer to do this. Ah. . . the pain and misery of a race, with all of its dirt and sweat and seizing muscles. But that hardship is addictive, and in training as in racing, the commitment hardens us, and the adversity defines us. I have spent a lot of time and tears thinking about what should have been in my life. After all, to whom much is given, much is expected, right? I have spent hours ruminating on the effects of wasted potential and opportunities squandered and other self-effacing concepts that can be traced back to my perfectionist, emotionally bankrupt, abusive father. But, as with even the triumphs of my life, it is all water under the bridge. Thus although it sounds trite, would I really be who I am today if my personality was not etched by the ebb and rush of these waters? I can’t change the past, and if I allow its perceived weight to negatively affect my present than I ignore the benefits life has given me. Do I like who I am today? Can I live my life unfettered by the brash, unrealistic expectations of my youth; proud of my accomplishments and eager for the chance to better myself? Would I be where I am standing now without the clarity and self-confidence that only the experience of triumph over adversity could have rendered? I think not.

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