Wednesday, November 25, 2020

These eyes

Our entire existence in a single glance.  These eyes.  Speaking so much louder than these words.  All there.  In plain sight.  Our entire story.  In this faces covered by masks era of our human history, our eyes have become so much more pronounced.  Mirrors.  Reflecting back to us who and what we are.  Connecting us.  Teaching us so very much, even more than all of the books.  These eyes.  Always revealing the truth.  Giving us all the answers.  It’s all there.  These windows to our souls.  All we need to do is open our eyes.  With the shorter days this time of the year, my eyes are having a hard time seeing through this darkness.  The ghastly parts of me resurfacing after being dormant all summer.  This isn’t about negativity.  It’s about honesty and humanity.  This season of extended darkness seems to be bringing up the masked darkness inside of me.  These eyes.  Wide open.  Recklessly looking for the light.  This dense heaviness, it can’t be chased away.  There’s nothing to do but look at it straight in the eyes.  To sit down with it in this dim silence.  To feel what it is asking to be felt.  Unafraid.  In this stillness, I begin to notice the stars amidst this lingering night.  Hope.  The real kind.  Abiding hope that can only be born from darkness.  Wait.  Watch.  Feel.  Surrender.  Soon, this frozen land will be covered in a blanket of snow.  Maybe that’s why snow is white?  To brighten things up for these eyes during this dark season.


Monday, November 23, 2020

Our Addictions

The cravings just seem to creep up on me.  An insatiable deep hunger.  All I can think of is my next dopamine hit.  This addiction.  My survival mechanism.  

Bikes have always been a huge deal for me for as long as I can remember.  From playing with my Evel Knievel action figure and toy bike to going on rides with my dad as a young boy, there’s just something magical about the mechanical physics of balancing a man-made machine on two wheels at speed.  Pure freedom.  Growing up, me and my friends literally lived on our bikes.  Jumping curbs and sidewalks.  Building ramps.  Endlessly exploring.  Riding into the sunset night after night.  I had a great childhood, good friends and a loving family.  But I also experienced certain consequential losses along the way.  Traumas that I didn’t have the tools to properly deal with at the time. 

Living in this traumatized world.  A world that doesn’t foster grieving and emotional healing.  An overly busy world, consumed with consumerism and the next big thing.  A world that doesn’t have time for what it sees as all this emotional trauma bullshit.  Living in such a world, all I knew how to do was what it taught me.  Stuff it all in.  Stiffen my upper lip.  Suck it up.  Put up a stoic front.  Repress.  Riding and racing bikes gave me the perfect environment to practice suppressing my emotional pain.  I was even validated and idolized for it.  The better I became at muffling and enduring pain on the bike, the more people paid attention to me.  I felt validated, like I was winning the battle.  Endurance sports are great like that.  Our bodies are constantly rating our pain.  Physical pain always rates higher than underlying emotional pain.  For this reason, “hurting our self” on a bike seems to alleviate the emotional pain beneath it by changing our focus.  The problem is that it’s only a Band-Aid, a temporary release mechanism.  It doesn’t fix the problem at the source.  It hushes the flames, but it never extinguishes the fire.

For me personally, everything literally came crashing down in July of 2016 during a local Tuesday night mountain bike race.  On the last lap, my tired hand slipped off the bar on a rooty downhill.  There was no way to save it.  I tried to roll as I hit the ground.  My helmet took the brunt of the impact.  Hitting my head that day was the beginning of hitting my rock bottom.  Concussed, I couldn’t ride anymore.  Hell, I couldn’t really do anything anymore.  Every single thing took so much energy and effort.  I lived in a constant fog.  The only time that I felt somewhat normal was when I was asleep.  Depressed and constantly anxious, I was a mess.  My broken brain made me feel like I was no longer part of this living dimension.  Alone in this darkness.  The bike racer pedestal that I once proudly stood on had crumbled and I no longer had a place to stand.  Emotionally, my concussion felt like the spillage of my entire life baggage.  The sealed container holding all of my past trauma violently smashed open by the impact of my fall, all of its contents scattered in a huge mess.  I could no longer deny it like I had done for so long.  Everything was all there before, neatly organized to ensure my survival.  Now it was all exposed, disorganized and raw.  The task of putting everything back in the container like it was before just wasn’t possible.  There was no going back.  All I could do was get really honest with myself.  Completely overwhelmed.  I didn’t know how and where to begin.


I started seeing a new psychologist.  I did yoga.  I meditated.  I read books that spoke to my soul.  And I slowly started riding again.  My first rides were very slow and short.  And still aggravated my symptoms.  I was but a tiny speck of my former self.  Completely deflated, the light at the end of the long tunnel was very dim.  Then, every once in a while, I started having better days.  Days when I was able to ride a little longer.  I was also finally revisiting the traumatic events of my past in psychotherapy, slowly allowing myself to feel what I couldn’t feel at the time.  I cried a whole lot.  And the more that I got better at feeling, the more that I started feeling better.  No shortcuts.  Time doesn’t heal all wounds.  This stuff doesn’t just go away by itself.  To get to the other side, I had to do the work.  Over 4 years later, I am feeling much better.  I still get that drunk, dizzy, disconnected feeling every once in a while but now I try to honour it, as a reminder of what I’ve been through and how far I’ve come.  I’m still seeing a psychologist.  I’m still healing.  Emotionally, I feel better than since I can remember.  And that is what motivates me to continue to sit with my discomfort instead of run away from it.  The process is and will always be ongoing.  It’s my life’s work.  The real work that makes me whole.


We’re all traumatized.  Damaged in some way.  It’s simply a side effect of living.  For me, as my traumas accumulated, they began to angrily drive me.  Infiltrating my every thought and action.  Lodging themselves into every single one of my cells.  Deep down, unconsciously, I hated myself because of what had happened to me.  As if I should have been able to prevent it.  This traumatized society.  A society that prizes pushing beyond our limits, idolizes strength and speed while viewing rest, showing emotion and grief as weakness.  Young and impressionable, that’s what I had learned.  Hard wired for survival, my addictions are simply the best solutions that my mind could come up with at the time in order to keep me alive.  Without them, I wouldn’t have made it.  Some levitate towards drugs, work, sex or shopping in an attempt to fill their void.  I ride bikes.  Why didn’t I end up in the same situation as the drug addicted homeless beggar?  I simply either suffered less trauma or I had more help and support dealing with and healing from my trauma.  In other words, I just got lucky.  In this sense, our addictions are actually purposeful.  Even if they are mostly never sustainable.


I‘m still madly in love with the bike even if this fondness has been evolving in a different direction lately.  Riding is still my lifeline, my salvation.  But now, it’s on my own terms.  At my own pace.  Mostly alone.  No expectations or agenda.  Simply exploring this world that we are one with.  An undying solitude seeker at heart.  My racing days are over.  I’m not saying bike racing is all bad.  It definitely has its place in cycling and it did serve its purpose, even if I no longer see it as the best thing about our sport.  For me personally, I can’t seem to race “just for fun”.  The competitive aspect seems to strip too much from my experience.  In its purest form, riding a bicycle is a very personal experience.  We get out of it what we put into it.  For me, riding makes me a better husband.  It makes me a better father.  It makes me a better friend.  It makes me a better human. 


Our addictions, our teachers.  Showing us what needs attention and healing.  Maybe we never completely heal from our addictions?  Maybe all we can do is stop hurting ourselves by taming them?  

Tuesday, November 17, 2020


Mid November.  After the leaves.  Before the snow.  These bare trees.  Earth’s arms.  Reaching up towards the sky.  Empty branches.  Empty hands.  Seemingly idle, but in reality actively outstretching up to the heavens.  The time of the year where the forest is most transparent.  I ride out to the pavilion, sit for a bit, then continue my journey through our city parks.  The temp hovers just above freezing but the warm sun and calm winds make it feel warmer.  Pedaling through this cool calmness feels very comforting.  If I’m honest, I have been feeling my perspective towards winter changing these last few weeks.  My body and mind seem to unconsciously be getting ready for it.  An inherent acclimatization of sorts.  Rolling through Centennial Park, I notice the occasional falling leaf slowly drifting, dancing in the breeze as it slowly makes its way to the ground.  Like our thoughts that just randomly appear.  Drifting and dancing before eventually disappearing.  Going back home to where all the other thoughts live.  Back to where they came from.  Back into the totality of existence.  Back to where they rebecome an undistinguishably part of the whole.  These trees have so much to teach us.  They don’t resist the cold and darkness.  They open up to it.  Unafraid, they unapologetically disrobe.  Completely giving in.  Perfectly naked.  Stripping themselves of their summer baggage.  Showing us how, even in the darkest season of the year, things become much clearer when we finally let go of what we thought we needed to hold onto.  Winter’s coming.  How empty are your hands?

Friday, November 13, 2020


Folded between these bed sheets, my legs are impatient.  They need to move.  They need to unfold.  Tossing and turning, my eyes slowly begin to open.  Stretching in bed as I wake, I can already feel the expansion happening in my lower extremities.  It spreads quickly.  To my heart.  To my mind.  To every single cell in my body.  Ride day mornings have a very sincere feel to them.  So much potentiality.  This unseasonably mild November weather certainly also contributing to my heightened stoke level.  In it’s purest form, riding a bicycle is a very personal act.  Uncontaminated freedom.  Honest.  Out there, exposed to the elements, there is nowhere to hide.  On my own terms.  I don’t want to rush it.  Unorganized.  No conditions.  No agenda.  I never need external motivation to get out and ride.  When I trained to race, each ride had a specific purpose.  Base mileage, intervals, strength, power.  I had specific set goals and objectives and the whole reason was to work towards them.  In so many ways it made my life very simple.  Just follow the prescribed training plan.  No thinking.  Just doing.  Today, I don’t really have any ride goals or objectives.  I’m not getting ready for anything except life itself.  Being.  Pedaling through this world that we are all an integral part of.  No more me against them.  It’s all just us.  One.  Riding regularly literally changes everything in my life.  I’m a better husband.  I’m a better father.  I’m a better employee.  I’m a better friend.  I’m a better writer.  I’m a better human.  Every single thing is enhanced when I ride.  Out of the city.  Into the valley.  My feet dancing on these pedals.  The covered bridge.  Ancient foothill churches.  Morning fog lifting.  Empty fields.  Full heart.  Being on my bike is when I feel most like my true self.  Uninhibited.  Rebellious.  In a society that wants us all to be the same, riding my bike is my way of creatively being unique. 


Tuesday, November 10, 2020


Craving my next dopamine hit.  This addiction.  My survival mechanism.  Born from my type-A personality, from living in this bruised and battered society.  So many people searching for the secret to happiness.  Some claiming to have found it, but for me, personally, I’m not always sure.  Sometimes, I feel like I can touch it, that it’s right there, straight in front of me.  So close, that all I need to do is pedal into it.  Other times, my ego getting in the way.  My addictions.  My way of enduring the pain of my traumas.  Deep down, I have come to understand and believe that our traumas are what drive us.  Their effects so very deep, multi-generational even.  Everyone has been traumatized.  Some more profoundly than others.  Some with less available help and support than others.  So much emotional pain and suffering.  So many addictions to enable us to deal with all of this agony and  heartache.  This traumatized society.  Endlessly searching for outer solutions to our inner problems.  These addictions.  Appeased by healing our traumas.  Healing by understanding and feeling.  This isn’t easy.  To finally experience repressed pain and suffering is one of the hardest and most courageous things to do.  That’s why it’s our life’s work.  Our most important duty.  Our moral responsibility to humanity.  Our gift to this world.  It isn’t about failing.  Healing is about feeling.  One of the things that I love most about riding bikes is how it somehow enables me to understand and feel more deeply.  What are you addicted to?  What have your addictions taught you about your traumas?


Thursday, November 5, 2020


The north breeze is fierce and wintry.  Temperature is just above freezing.  Unseasonably cold for the end of October.  In this open area, I continue my jaunt.  On my bike.  Outside.  Mingling with these raw elements.  Outside of my comfort zone.  Outside of myself.  The frigid wind gusts making my eyes water.  Warm tears rolling down my cheek.  Overflowing onto the inside lens of my glasses.  I stop to wipe them clean.  Standing there, I am reminded of the ride that is also happening within.  Not resisting.  This strong cold current.  Somehow, seemingly bringing light to certain inner obstacles just by being out there, facing these outer obstacles.  Focus on these feelings.  Focus on these words.  Nature is such a powerful force.  Perfectly honest.  Courage seeking.  My relationship with cold weather isn’t really straightforward.  I often feel like my body just wasn’t built for it.  Unattuned.  Allowing myself to feel how this chill physically affects me, observing how my body responds to it.  Strangely, these tears trickling down my face, although not triggered by emotion, seem to help these feelings flow.  Comforting discomfort… 

@jamesonthefront started this cool ongoing project thing where he posts #facesofcycling / #humansofcycling to show the human emotions stirred on our rides.  As a solitude seeker type of rider, here is my ride selfie from last Friday.  Numb on the outside.  So very alive on the inside.