It wasn't heavy snow or a ridiculous work schedule that prevented my attendance at this past weekend's KCUC season opener and 200km brevet, but an unfortunate passing in our family. This isn't a grab for condolences or anything like that, nor is it the typical need for social justification on why I can make certain rides and not others -- just a mention, and a marker in time for my future reference. My wife's grandma, however, will indeed be missed.
Similar to the passing of my father several years ago now, the last year of her life was especially challenging, and, realizing that teaches me once again to be mindful about that which I choose to complain. Gracious under pressure, quiet dignity, a smile, and a "just fine" when asked how things had been going, regardless of the truth. Positiveness begets positiveness, and may we all find a reason to smile in spite of life's little pains and problems.
Truly the simple blessing of taking in a breath-full of fresh, morning air - each day until our last - is gift enough, and the rest just icing.
With such expectations perhaps enjoying life itself, for "what it is", becomes easier, its challenges less arduous.
Sure - with the purported "best weather in five years" for KCUC's first ride, it was a shame to have missed it; however, sitting in an armchair among family and friends, talking about nothing in particular, over good food - even in spite of the occasion for the gathering - always turns out to be a fine way to spend a weekend. The bike seldom entered my mind - and I think that means I've got things figured out. Surely as the bicycle hangs upside-down, in waiting, in the garage at home - I can grab a ride any old time. The times with family are precious - and life, all too often, shorter than we'd prefer.
As I pass into my 4th decade, perhaps I'll have less and less to complain about.
Perhaps I'm finally finding it far more rewarding to simply enjoy the ride, no matter the vehicle.
It's been a remarkable month -
The first DSR was an intimate affair, and, with technology and good discussion in tow, we enjoyed clear skies, bright Venus and Jupiter setting, and the challenges of riding the last few miles on completely empty stomachs, thanks to a c-store which wrapped up business earlier than their operating hours sign had otherwise suggested.
The tenth anniversary of my first brevet was to be a compare/contrast exercise - what have I learned in ten-years of randonneuring?
I'm personally still waiting on the answer; though I know it to be strictly rhetorical. My journey has been complicated and contrived, and with each passing year I find myself chuckling, not only at what I had yet to learn 10 years back, but also what I'd elected to re-learn only a few weeks ago. My memoirs will be clogged with self-confusion and the fallout of a far-to-noisy inner monologue, which I've yet to figure out quite how to silence. It's easier than it used to be, though, which is progress, as I slide ever closer to the Zen-state of "just pedaling". My cycling career is a comedy of errors, perhaps best related via the dry, sardonic wit of British humour. Perhaps Rowan Atkinson would be up for the role of "Dude" in the film of my cycling career, who knows. Perhaps I watch too much Top Gear (UK), but I find the commentary from my rides much more entertaining when read aloud in my head via carefully metered exchanges between Jeremy Clarkson, Phil Liggett, James May, Paul Sherwen, and Richard Hammond, all while run through a template of Monty Python skits.
Some say he can spot equipment mislignments on a millimetric scale from twenty paces, and that he thinks every hilltop during a brevet has leader's points... all we know is.... he's not the Stig... but he *is* the Stig's American randonneuring cousin....
All in all, it's been an interesting month - the R-12 streak continues, though it feels as if the last ride was months ago.
April looks good, and my next permanent ride towards R-12 (despite the minimum requirement being 200km) may be a 300k, to prepare for highly anticipated 400km Brevet up into Iowa on April 28th.
Despite the cycling-centric crux of this blog, the lessons resonating from what transpires *off* the saddle remain most engaging. Therein sits the most important lesson of all; it really *isn't* about the bike. Though I've never professed my cycling to be more important than any other aspect of my life, surely as it's not, sometimes I leave such an impression hanging in these pages. Certainly in the office and to the readership at large I come across quite one-dimensional. What's most important, and I think Grandma, and definitely my father, would've agreed: at the end of whatever our day brings, when things are stored away, the time-clock punched, it's those moments around the family dinner table which make it all worthwhile.
Its not about what you do... its about who you share it with.
The only thing cycling REALLY does?
It helps transform me into a better person while I'm off the bike, where it counts.