I have an embarrassing secret. I love cycling (not the embarassing secret unless you count running around in skin tight shorts as embarassing). No, the big secret is that when I am all alone on the bike I can’t help but feel the desire to chase down every other cyclist on the road.
I will probably never race. It looks like a lot of hard work. However, for some reason whenever there is another person on the road something screams out to me to overtake them. I have frequently felt ashamed by my selected targets – an old guy on a bike, a girl on a mountain bike, etc. These are not Tour de France types of targets. To my credit I usually pick a distance, I am a mile back and I have to overtake them before the next stop sign – that sort of thing. On occasion my target will be a fellow cyclist that looks like he is a worthy opponent. I love it when I can overtake those guys, but then I am forced to continue to ride hard so they can’t pass me. I don’t want to look like an idiot.
Of course I am an idiot because all of this is pretty stupid and foolish, but then again when you ride the same road every day you need something to do.
I have been watching the Tour de France off and on even though it is lame that they won’t let Alberto Contador or Levi Leipheimer ride which means Le Tour is Le unfair sucky sporting event of the year. Anyway, I can’t help but think of Lance Armstrong every time the tour rolls around. I love to see the old clips with him riding in truly spectacular fashion. To come back from cancer and then win the most difficult sporting event in the world seven times is an unmatched accomplishment. His sacrifice is an inspiration that has been heralded many times.
Last night when I was riding home I spotted another target. This guy was moving at a good pace so I could resist. I figured I could catch him without any problem. There was a hill coming up that slows down most people and I figured I could push it at 20 mph for a bit and blow him away.
When I got to the hill he was already gone. I could have given up, but … no I couldn’t give up. I rode hard and fast. It took a few miles but I managed to get pretty close. Then he dropped his water bottle and kept on going. He obviously didn’t notice. I thought about stopping to pick it up, but then decided if I did I would never catch him to give it back. I sprinted like crazy and managed to come up beside him. I told him that he had dropped the bottle. He politely replied, “thanks” and immediately turned around to retrieve the water bottle. I noticed that he was disabled. In the past I have complained about my back giving me problems and how that hurts. However, I noticed this gentleman had difficultly holding his head so that he could ride and had other disabilities. I also noticed that his calves were something to be jealous of. He was fast and strong. That speed had come at a much greater price than most of us have to pay. It probably wasn’t easy to navigate his bike, but he did so with grace and speed.
There are many well known inspirations – Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador. They are very abstract to most of us. Among the rest of us live others who are no less an inspiration in their own right.
Last night I was inspired not by a cycling great, but by a guy who, in spite of difficulty, was great at cycling.