sitting on the uncomfortable perch atop our kitchen cubbies, my feet freezing, my knee pulsing in pain under the bungee cord that secured the ice pack, and my cannibalized road frame in the basement, i thought hard about giving it all up.
i thought about many things, almost everything, except the important things.
i thought about how expensive it is to love bikes. i thought about how bad i am at it, in a racing/competition sense. i thought about how much money i could save in not upgrading parts or drivetrains or engaging in humorous saddle preference experiments. i thought about all the times i've raced, and lost hopelessly (every time). i thought about how i couldn't bend my knee without searing pain shooting out from underneath the mysteriously non-swollen patella. i thought about how cheap and easy it is to fly places with a pair of running shoes and some shorts. i thought about how much better i am at racing on two feet. (then i thought about my knee and tried to think of something else.) i thought about my toolbox. i thought about how little money i could get for the painstaking builds i have in the basement, in the shed, under the tarp on the porch. i thought about the bikes on the storage pole in the dining room, and how mine is heavy and in the way. i thought about all of the things i could be obsessing about and training for and doing and reading about and getting dirty over OTHER than bikes, and i didn't feel freed by that thought process at all. it felt dishonest. it felt queasy. it felt like giving up.
i am terrible at racing bikes.
never in my life have i gone faster than a collected group of people and outshone some other person in my category or out, in pursuit of a finish line. never. i've been last plenty of times. i've been end of pack many times. i've been slower than average in all top-finishers of every duathlon and triathlon. i've been lapped by the pro women who started 3 minutes after i did. i am terrible at racing bikes. and it's this terribleness that keeps me, sometimes, from wanting to progress. i can't get motivated to work harder or train more or smarter because it seems like i've been around the machines long enough that some kind of advantage must have seeped into my body from sheer exposure. i should be faster because i've loved bikes longer than anyone else! but no. and sitting there in the cold kitchen, site of so many late-night forays into the mysteries of italian componentry and quiet hacksawing of steerer tubes, i thought it might all be pointless. why love something so expensive, consuming, and ultimately devoid of concrete yield?
perusing the serotta forum today, i got an answer.
after watching this video, i realized i was thinking about the wrong things when i thought about giving it all up. i should have been thinking about my own daughter (gabi in the video is someone else's daughter). i should have been remembering my own first time on two wheels, and how i still get excited after 20 years of getting on two wheels. i should have remembered imparting that same excitement to my daughter, my dream come true. i should have remembered all those stolen hours in the park, her leading me, both of us with ridiculous grins, enjoying the simple action of spinning wheels and self-propelled, perfect motion. i should have remembered that my knee hurt because i ran a half marathon on sunday and my family cheered me on when i needed it the most. i should have remembered that active parents usually yield active kids. i should have remembered so many fall leaves, crunching under 16-inch tires as the wide-eyed five-year-old got her first taste of riding on dirt. i should have remembered laps in the alleyway before dinner. i should have remembered my own joy as i took off the girl's training wheels.
i should have remembered that my daughter will remember this, and the future will be better for it.