Who Am I?

Last week, Wanky's daily dose of take-it-or-leave-it-I don't-really-give-a-fuck blather got me thinking. In this case, it was Five Types of People Who Will Quit Cycling.

There was a time that I lived for music. It consumed the majority of my waking hours. Starting around age 12, I spent countless hours perfecting my rendition of Smoke on the Water, making my parents deeply regret buying me such a large guitar amplifier. I played in just about every musical ensemble in middle and high school, and had multiple bands at any given time. I went to college sure that music was the perfect career path for me. People who know me now seem to find this extremely funny, but at the time I was absolutely dedicated. For three and a half years I plugged away in music school, before realizing one day I didn't like playing music anymore. I realized I might have had the technical skill, but I would never make the kinds of artistic strides my contemporaries were. I wasn't wired that way, and it took all of the joy out of the activity.

At age 22, I joined the Air Force. I have barely touched a musical instrument since.

When I was assigned to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, I found that I loved taking my jeep out into the desert and up into the mountains. Off-pavement driving became my consuming passion, and I dove in head first. I must have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours building the Jeep and driving it all over the country in search of random rocks to traverse. Then I gradually lost interest as everyone's focus changed to EXTREME! wheeling and fuel prices rose. I didn't have the disposable income to fight the constant upgrade war and dump up to $200 every weekend in my gas tank. I eventually parked my Jeep and found other stuff to do. Last summer I finally parted it out and gave the carcass to a friend because I didn't want to see it rot.

When I moved to Alaska, I rediscovered my love of skiing. After my bout with EXTREME! skiing, I found that I really liked racing. Again I charged into an activity and immersed myself in the culture, going to race camps and getting certified as a coach. I learned as much as I could about bashing plastic poles, and it's still something I really enjoy. However, after a decade of being involved in the sport far too deeply, I had to pull back a bit for my own sanity and to redistribute a bit of time to my family. Now my skiing is more centered around my daughter (and hopefully soon the toddler) than my own futile pursuits of racing glory.

Ten years of intensity and then a switch to something else seems to be the pattern.

Why this gives me pause is that it was ten years ago I bought a road bike and started riding regularly. Seven or so years ago I started racing.

The clock is ticking.

Or is it?

Let's look at Wanky's list of Five Types of People That will Quit Cycling:
  • People who ride to race. I train to race, and most of my non-racing riding could be characterized as "training" in a very loose way. Fuck. I'm screwed.
  • People who love equipment. I'm a gear whore no matter what activity I'm involved in, so I'm doubly screwed. Bikes are just Legos you can ride, and I've always liked building stuff with Legos.
  • People who love “the group ride.”  Since we don't have a strong road group ride culture in the area, I may have dodged a bullet here. I do find that when I can make a group ride, I usually just want everyone to shut up and commence with the making me hurt part. You can talk while you wait for me at the coffee shop afterwards. You'll have plenty of time.
  • People who are snobs. I suck too much to be a snob, but I have a strong tendency towards self-delusion, so we'll call this one a draw.
  • People who have The Big Crash. I've known too many people that have had major injuries pursuing the sports I love, so I've always considered it a question of when and not if. How I get up afterwards remains to be seen, but at least I recognize the possibility.
On the other hand, he also listed the People That Never, Ever Stop Cycling:
  • People who love riding around. One of the things I like about riding is the chance to see what's around the corner. Even if I'm "training", I still take time to notice new things that I can't recall seeing before. Given my short memory, this isn't as hard as it sounds.
  • People whose lives are a living fucking hell on earth. Not me. I'm stumbling through life, blissfully unaware that catastrophe is right around the corner. Hell might be in my future, but for now I have no complaints.
  • Drunks. I never could muster the kind of commitment it required to be a drunk.
  • People who are super cheap. I may be poor, but that's because I spend far too much money on bike crap.
  • People who never grow up. If all else fails, I have this one going for me.
I have no idea if I'll burn out one day and stop riding. Life's only constant is change, so I'll figure it out as I go. Since it's been the healthiest of the activities I've pursued over the years, I hope it will morph as things change, staying as relevant to me as it is today. If it doesn't, I'll find something else to do with my time.

I always do.

Maybe an artisanal meth lab is in my future...


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