Thursday, September 29, 2022

Perfectly Imperfect



One of the ways that my trauma has molded me is that I am somewhat of a control freak.  Ok, let’s be honest, the word “somewhat” should have been omitted.  My relationship with control is better described as an obsession.  An extreme unconscious belief that if I’m careful enough, vigilant enough and go over all possible scenarios enough that I can prevent future hurtful events or trauma from occurring.  My analytical brain’s best attempt at keeping me safe.  All-consuming.  Utterly exhausting.  And simply impossible.  My control obsession also presents itself as perfectionism.  A learned behavior fueled by my anxiety.  An egoic endeavor.  A disease of the mind maybe.  A type of neurosis even.  Constantly looking for faults.  Incessantly terrified of making mistakes.  An all-consuming, never ending, impossible effort. And such a hindrance to happiness.  Being alive means being imperfect.  Only dead things can be perfect.  Only when I am no longer breathing will I no longer make mistakes.  Living happily can only happen when I allow and expect imperfection.  All in my head.  In this undisciplined brain.  This problem-solving organ.  Its mission to look for problems and find solutions.  My heart on the other hand isn’t as logical.  This feeling organ.  Its eyes able to see beauty hidden in the flaws.  Maybe that’s what true love is all about.  In our ability to cherish the imperfections.  The blemishes actually making us love even more.  My traumas certainly run deep.  Understanding them is how I heal them.  And in case you needed to be reminded.  I am and you are already perfectly imperfect.

Monday, September 12, 2022

54



Nothing’s the same.  Everything’s the same.  Outside versus inside.  Another lap around the sun.  One year older.  I can feel it.  But only on the outside.  That’s what makes aging so weird.  The body is constantly changing.  Slowly falling apart once we reach a certain age.  But the part within us that moves through each of these body versions stays the same.  My outer form.  It definitely has a middle aged feel to it.  Even though I’m not quite sure what this age should feel like.  Sitting still.  Eyes closed.  I’m still the young boy in all of my childhood memories.  It’s almost like this is all just a dream.  Maybe that’s really all it is.  Feeling very grateful to still be breathing and able to feel it all.  So very fortunate to be able to witness me actually becoming more me.  Contemplating my existence on my birthday, I can’t really explain it any other way.  This is simply my truth.  My 54 year old truth.

 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

It's time




Once you drop beyond the edge of darkness, even after you pull yourself back up, it leaves a trench.
  And because of this, it’s so much easier to slip back down.  Even if I felt great on the bike last month, I had been riding too much.  Unconsciously caught up in the numbers.  Fueled by a certain sense of desperation.  My pedaling out of balance with being.  When riding is your medicine, the dosage is of the essence.  Not enough surely isn’t good.  But too much isn’t good either.  Deep down I knew that I wasn’t well.  Whenever I hyper focus on bikes it usually means that my riding has become but a distraction to avoid feeling something else.  During my last session with my psychologist, the term depression comes up numerous times.  The label doesn’t offend or frighten me.  In so many ways, I find it rather comforting.  What I feel is not “I no longer want to live” depressed.  But rather “I really need a deep rest” depressed.  Living in denial for such a long time can be so very exhausting like that.  The thing with breakdowns is that they’re invitations that can eventually lead to breakthroughs.  If we’re paying attention.  And if we’re willing to take a deep look at that which is.  Their purpose to slow everything down enough to enable us to get even a tiny glimpse of the truth hidden behind the darkness.  In this silent standstill.  As this fuzzy dimension slowly starts to lift.  As this new school year begins.  My own personal emotional homework right in front of me.  It’s time.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Speak Up



Speak up.  A trivial slip and fall on my backside two weeks ago.  A sudden collision with a small deer as we were driving home from the beach a few days later.  Minor bumps that the old me would have brushed off without thinking twice.  But with this delicate brain, my concussion symptoms reawakened.  This old familiar fuzzy dimension.  Dizzy.  Disconnected.  Undone.  This body and mind that don’t feel like mine.  Are these sensations post-concussion syndrome or depression?  I’m not sure.  The nuances between the two are just too damn close.  I do recognize this dark gloomy place though.  I’ve lived here before.  I don’t really feel like staying.  But I don’t get to decide when I can leave.  Invisible injuries and illnesses are bitches like that.  No one wants to talk about them.  But that’s how they lose their power.  Dismantling associated stigmas by speaking up.  I can’t just suck it up.   I can’t fake it.  I can’t keep telling myself those lies.  All I can do is listen to my body.  Follow my own rules.  Be patient.  And I can also speak up.  Its  manifestations are physical.  It’s not just in my head even if it really is.  If I seem indecisive these days.  If I cancel plans last minute.  If I seem withdrawn.  If I isolate myself.  It’s not you.  It’s me.  I’m not apologizing.  I’m not looking for pity or sympathy.  I’m simply speaking up.  If you’re going through something similar, please know that you’re not alone.  If you want to talk about it, I’m here.  Speak up.

 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Reason for suffering




I remember a conversation way back when.  A discussion about how the strongest rider doesn’t always win.  That the victor is more often the endurance athlete who can suffer the most.  Mediocre competitors out suffering much more talented racers.  It happens all the time.  So very much of it is in the head.  In our willingness to turn ourselves inside out on the race course.  But maybe it isn’t just in our ABILITY to suffer.  Maybe it’s mostly in our REASON to suffer.  A while back I remember reading a story about Greg Lemond.  Shortly after almost losing his life in a hunting accident, he made the winning break in an early season race even if he obviously had much less fitness and training compared to the rest of the peloton.  Lemond felt like he belonged in that break.  It was his reason for suffering.  In Tyler Hamilton’s book, he explains how for Lance Armstrong that losing was like dying.  And we now all know the extent that he went to in order to win.  For him, it was a matter of life or death.  It was his reason for suffering.  A few days ago in the Tour de France, Canadian Israel-Premier Tech racer Hugo Houle won stage 16 in honor of his late brother Pierrik who was killed by a drunk driver in 2012.  For 10 years he promised he’d win a Tour stage for his brother.  It was his reason for suffering.  I raced bikes for close to 30 years, It’s pretty much what I had assumed that I’d keep doing.  I felt like it was who I was, what I was meant to do.  During that time, I just couldn’t see myself not racing.  But then things changed.  I changed.  How I now see myself.  My identity.  My relationship with these bikes.  How do I know that I am done with racing?  It’s quite simple actually.  I know today that my racing days are over because I have since lost my reason for suffering.

 

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Concussaversary



The impact was fatal.  Annihilating a huge part of me when my head hit the ground on that day six years ago.  The bike racer.  This false persona.  My ego completely dismantled.  My truth revealed.  Face to face with the real me.  This new fuzzy reality.  Desperately waiting for my senses to settle.  This brand new everchanging brain chemistry.  Nowhere to hide.  Impossible to keep riding away.  Just me and these demons.  Desperately trying to find a way to tame them.  This past Tuesday, July 5th, was my concussaversary.  The last time that I pinned on a race number.  The day that the previous version of me died.  It hit me hard for some reason this year.  Partly because of how traumatic this seemingly minor injury has affected me.  And mostly because of how far I’ve come since then.  Without this accident, I am absolutely certain that I would have never undertaken the difficult work of healing my trauma as a sexual abuse victim.  So much internalized shame released.  I truly believe that was the main purpose of this whole ordeal.  The universe’s way of showing someone stubborn and hard headed like me the way to the truth.  I got out for a solo celebratory ride that evening.  Meeting myself by spinning these pedals.  A short gravel jaunt before the rain.  Even if I feel like I’m still healing from this injury, I can’t help but also feel forever grateful for all that it has taught me.  Sometimes the parts of you that once seemed all important need to die in order to make room for much better parts of you to emerge.  It’s never “just a concussion”.  Love your brain.  And always wear a helmet.


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Pedaling Longevity Project




For the longest time now, riding has been my medicine.  For so many years, I used it as an analgesic.  A coping mechanism enabling me to numb the pain from underlying past trauma.  A very effective method.  Riding to forget.  It worked for years.  Even if it was but a masking remedy that only provided temporary relief.  Today, my riding has changed.  I’ve changed.  Less avoiding.  More feeling.  Riding to remember.  To heal what I am struggling to feel.  To help me make a bit of sense of the senseless.  Closer to these emotions.  No longer trying to escape them.  My bikes guiding me back to my true self.  I’ve come to a point where I no longer have any use for competition anymore.  I’ve come to despise it actually.  It just seems to rob me of too much happiness.  There simply is nothing left to prove.  I am already enough.  Fast enough.  Strong enough.  Goal setting and signing up for challenging events are not what motivate me to keep pedaling.  My reasons are intrinsic.  No longer about improving.  Simply about enjoying.  The only intention or goal that I currently have in regards to bikes is to be able to ride as long as physically possible.  Not faster.  Not farther.  Just to keep spinning these pedals.  In this happy medium space at this unhurried pace called sustainability.  I call it my personal ‘Pedaling Longevity Project’.

 

Friday, May 27, 2022

Changing my mind about change





I don’t remember who said it.  And I don’t remember the exact wording.  But I do remember reading that working on oneself is mainly about learning how to let go of wanting things or people to change.  Change.  We’re most often either impatiently waiting for it or dreading it.  We’ve been blessed with warm beautiful days these last few weeks.  With some wet cool days in between.  I’ve been riding almost daily.  Mostly gravel with some road.  Groad is what I think they call it .  With some BMX in between.  This sunny weather after all the rain earlier this month has left these forests vibrantly buzzing.  So very pregnant.  Birthing fresh leaves.  Reawakening.  These creatures of light.  Constantly changing.  If I’m honest, I must admit that I had been restlessly waiting for these natural changes for a few months now.  The emergence of this spring season sprinkled with glimpses of summer.  Empowered by these changes as they change me.  Energized by this strengthening sun.  Back to life.  Following its lead.  Sleeping when it sets.  Waking when it rises.  My ideal rhythm.  Even if most of my rides are local, around these same roads, they’re still never the same.  Outside is never stagnant.  Constantly changing.  Eloquently evolving.  A brand new ride every single time.  The art of riding these bikes.  Irrelevant path.  Irrelevant goal.  No right or wrong direction.  Just flowing movement.  The faster I hurry, the slower I go.  Everything just keeps changing. 

Friday, May 6, 2022

Margot




I may have been in middle school?  Or a freshman in high school?  Maybe?  I’m not sure.  But after all these years, I still remember reading Ray Bradbury’s science fiction short story “All Summer in a Day”.  A futuristic story of nine year old classmates living on Venus, a planet where it rains pretty much constantly, the sun only appearing for a few hours every seven years.  One of the students, Margot, had moved there from Earth five years earlier and was the only one in her class who remembers what the sun looks and feels like.  Different from everyone else, she is constantly bullied and locked into a closet just before the sun comes out of its seven year hiding causing her to miss the whole thing.  The details of this story were very fuzzy in my mind after all these years.  But I clearly remember wondering what it would be like to live in such a wet world.  The intense feeling of euphoria during that brief period of sunshine.  The tragedy of how Margot was treated.  The devastation of missing that sunny interlude.  And the sheer agony of having to wait another seven long years.  Growing up, I remember literally sitting by the window waiting for the rain to stop.  Me and my friends in my dad’s garage, impatiently watching our BMX ramps dry so we could ride.  Even today, I still glance out the window every single morning as soon as I wake up to check the weather.  Rain for five days straight last week evoked memories of life on Venus and Margot’s story.  This week the weather changed.  Sun and clouds.  Drying gravel.  Close to 80k on Wednesday.  My longest ride of this year.  Just getting back home, it starts to rain again.  Not for 5 days this time.  Just a shower.  Poor Margot.

 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Number Sixty



39 years ago.  April 1983.  Before going to the car show at the Moncton Coliseum, we dropped into Eastern Sports.  Me and my cousin Armand.  We both bought Haro Flo Panel BMX plates.  I didn’t know what number to choose.  I remembered a picture in one of my BMX Action magazines of a dude riding a white SE PK Ripper like mine.  I didn’t really know who he was but I really liked his style.  And that white PK!  I’m not 100% sure, but if I remember correctly, his name was Bubba Hayes.  And he was rocking #60 as he was slaying his competition on the BMX track.  I felt inspired.  And decided to also go with #60 for my first full year of BMX racing.  I was 14 years old.  Last year, while cleaning my old bed room, my mom found my old Haro Flo Panel plate.  I cleaned it up.  And Luc provided the stickers including my old #60 bringing it back to life.  39 years ago.  1983.  Eat.  Sleep. BMX.  Repeat.  Yeah, that sure was a great summer… 

 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Shunyata




The pavilion.  It got a face lift.  Actually, it’s more like a foundation lift.  The roof and legs are still the same.  The old rotten wooden deck floor is now gone.  It has been replaced with a concrete slab.  I like it.  Even if I miss the wooden benches.  Maybe they’ll be added again later this year?  It’s still quite cold, windy and rainy here.  But the snow is pretty much all gone.  Spring has arrived.  Just when winter seemed to linger on forever, it’s suddenly over.  Just like that.  Such an abrupt pivotal seasonal shift.  And even on my 54th trip around the sun, it somehow still catches me by surprise.  Even the songs that the birds are singing have changed.  Waking up to these pleasant springtide melodies flooding me with so many carefree childhood memories.  That feeling of excitement that I would get when the bike came out of winter storage.  Elation.  So much promise.  So many adventures just around the corner.  And a whole new level of aliveness.  I’ve ridden out to the pavilion five times in the last few weeks.  Something leading me here.  Mercifully guiding me.  It’s hard to explain.  Buddha calls it shunyata.  Which translates to emptiness or voidness.  No matter how everything keeps changing, this nothingness always remains the same.  This eternal now.  Maybe that’s the whole point.  Maybe that’s what keeps bringing me and my bike here to the pavilion.  Nothing at all.

 

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Nothing to prove





35 years.  I sold my 1985 Haro Master Freestyler in the spring of 1988 after my first year of university.  Not because I no longer enjoyed riding it.  Simply because everyone kept telling us that it was time to start adulting.  We sold the ramps.  I bought a car.  And eventually got into mountain bikes.  Then road and cyclocross.  “Adult” bicycles.  I have always and will forever be in love with bikes.  All of them.  But there is certainly a very special spot deep in my heart for 20” BMX.  My roots.  Today, with social media, watching so many old school freestylers riding again has rekindled this lifelong passion.  My childhood heroes.  RL Osborn.  Eddie Fiola.  Martin Aparijo.  This newfound inspiration.  My last chance.  So begins the search for a modern old school 20” BMX bike.  They are so rare right now.  Sold out everywhere.  It takes a while.  But I finally find a 2021 GT Pro Performer Heritage 20.  Old school looks.  Modern geometry.  Present-day technology.  Just what I need to tame this mid-life crisis itch.  Of all the types of bike riding that I have done in the last 35 years, flatland freestyle sure is the form that is going to take the most practice.  Just for fun.  And with absolutely nothing to prove…

 

Friday, March 18, 2022

Pedaling Zen





Fat bikes are generally categorized as mountain bikes.  The only difference being the extra-wide tires really.  During my last ride,  I thought about how I seem to ride mine more like a gravel bike.  Backcountry exploration is what I yearn for.  Wandering through the woods.  Wallowing in the forest’s silence.  Just me and my bike.  The steady harmony of air moving in and out of my lungs.  The crunch of my fat studded tires rolling over these ice roads.  As much as I appreciate the grooming efforts of all those who maintain on our local winter fat bike trail systems, I quickly get bored with multiple laps of a smaller loop.  I go over things again and again enough in my mind.  I don’t want to be doing the same when I ride.  The intention is to get away.  To keep going.  Further and further.  Passing through.  For me, it’s never about speed or how many watts I’m pushing.  It’s simply about this meditative movement.  Pedaling Zen.  Something therapeutic about this effortless working pace.  Something restorative about quietly spinning pedals with a steady heart rate of 120 beats per minute.  This perfect speed.  This perfect effort.  This perfect therapy.  This winter fat bike season has come to an end.  With day time highs mostly above freezing now, it’s time to hang up the winter riding tool.  And share some highlight shots from the last few months.

 

Monday, March 14, 2022

The unknown solitude seeking woodsman




Shortly after passing this abandoned camp in the woods, I notice fresh human footprints in the fallen snow.  In both directions.  A walk out.  And a walk back.  I keep riding.  At my own pace.  Following the footmarks.  Around each corner, glancing as far ahead as I can see.  Just before reaching my own turning point, I finally spot the foot traveler.  Turning off the main trail.  Around the closed gate.  Steadily continuing down the well beaten snow path that he later tells me leads to his backyard.  An older fellow.  Sporting olive rubber boots and a very well worn work hoodie.  Do I say something?  I don’t want to scare him.  Before I have the chance to decide if I should ring my bike bell, he slowly glances back.  Hi, isn’t it a gorgeous day to be out in the woods?  He smiles and agrees.  We end up talking for over 15 minutes.  We never exchange names.  But he does tell me that he’s 72 years old and that he does this very walk out to the edge of the meadow and back twice daily.  It helps control my blood pressure.  And also boosts my mental health, he adds.  I can’t help but smile.  How he spends his days really sounds like something that I would be doing at his age.  He asks me about my bike.  And we talk about politics and how kids nowadays don’t go outside much.  Even if I have never met him and still don’t know his name, I feel a certain connection.  In our endless longing to be out alone in the woods.  In our need for solitude.  In our understanding that wandering through the forest’s silence calms our chattering mind.   Close to 3 hours of pedaling.  The snow dancing as it steadily gravitates towards the ground.  Wondering about all the stories inside this abandoned camp.  And ruminating on my short conversation with the unknown solitude seeking walking woodsman.  Yeah, this was a good day…