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


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.