Thursday, September 5, 2013

On the importance of turning another year older

I guess I'm old. At least that's what my kids tell me. And, yeah, I guess I am. 38 is getting up there. I never thought I'd make it past that fabled age of 26. Then again, I fully intended to be a rock star with a wicked heroine addiction. But that didn't pan out for a number of reasons, not the least of which is my utter lack of musical skills beyond a wicked air guitar. Not too shabby at air drums either, but...

I was actually thinking about age a week or so ago, while riding home after a great session on the trails. I'd ridden some sections where I'd dabbed before. I'd improved my skills just the tiniest bit. I felt really good. Really strong. And as I was riding that last little bit home it dawned on me that I was quickly coming up on my birthday and couldn't quite remember if I were going to be turning 38 or 39. Then I got to thinking about 40 and how much I feel like I don't have my shit together at all. Not in the least. Especially when compared to my own father when he was 40. I mean he was building his own business at the time. We lived in a really nice house. We'd lived in houses we owned my whole life, for the most part. We weren't rich, but we also weren't wanting.

I'm sure if I asked him, he'd say he didn't have his shit together either at that age. Who really knows what aspirations someone else has? Anyway, I was thinking about 40 and what I want to accomplish before then. And I got to thinking about how I didn't feel close to 40. Particularly when I am on my bike. When I am on my bike at the tail end of a good ride I feel like I am 10 or 12 riding my old BMX bike at the gravel pit of my youth, jumping and skidding out and being free. The bike makes me feel that way most every day, which is why I ride.

But there are things that I want to do on the bike that are not about freedom. Well, they are, but a different kind of freedom, a kind a freedom I've never experienced. Freedom from fear and self-doubt. See, there is this race up here, the Iditarod Invitational. Pretty famous on the fatbike circuit. I made some off-handed comment once about wanting to ride the race when I was 40 to see if I could break free from the fear of failure, the fear of pain, the doubt of my abilities and etc. Though I don't want to race the course. In fact I don't even want to ride it with the other riders. This is something I want to do completely alone.

But deep down I think I know that I won't do it. I don't have my shit together enough to have a plan in place for training and to save the money needed to cover the expenses of it. I don't have my shit together enough to take the time away from my family so that I can train properly. I don't have my shit together enough to get over the fear of failure. Or else I am just really good at making excuses for why not.

The thing is, the older I get, the more I think about all the things I haven't done because I was afraid of failure or even just too lazy to really try. And it makes me really sick to my stomach. But the bike. The bike seems to be opening things up to me that I had closed off before. Possibilities. I'll never be a racer. Don't want to be. I'll never be one of those people who participate in big group charity rides. I'm the guy who'll be riding everyday because that's what I do. And that riding everyday has given me the time to really think about what is important in my life and what I want from life. I'm still trying to refine those thoughts into a usable form, but I'm getting closer all the time. I'm looking for ways that I can use the bike to break away while growing closer to my family. Unfortunately, they don't have quite the affinity for the bike as I do, though I'm trying.

And some random pictures from recent rides:

And there we be.

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