My wife asks me this all the time. Well, occasionally, at least. I think it’s because invariably when I get home from a long ride, and I tell her how the ride went, I tend to focus on the material aspects of the ride. How I did physically, what the weather was like, what problems I had, etc. So, to her, it often sounds like a bunch of pointless suffering. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t an upside to the whole affair, it’s just that those upsides are harder to talk about – they are less concrete, and much more touchy-feely. Dare I say, philosophical, or even spiritual? And unless I feel like getting into an existential discussion, I don’t go there.
You can see it here on this blog too. I am not dishing out a lot of deep thoughts, clearly. But, you know, that’s not what this thing is for. This is the modern equivalent of a diary for me, but only as it concerns the easily-relatable. Sometimes I will read something I posted a while ago and I get a kick out of it. That’s enough for me. And if a few of you folks enjoy a photo or a ride report now and again, then hey, that’s all the better. The other types of thoughts swimming around up there that I keep private, well that’s not because they are all that private, really, its mostly because I am too lazy to try to articulate them. Articulatin’ is hard!
But still, something is compelling me to answer the question: Why do I do this?
Because I enjoy the challenge? Seek to test my abilities as a ‘complete’ cyclist? Is this that whole ‘Type II fun’ thing, again? It’s nice to look back at something I did that was hard. Something I could have definitely failed at, but didn’t. Is this a self-indulgent, ego-driven thing? Sorta. Maybe. I’m not sure, really. But in any case, it’s an bad explanation, because even when it’s not hard, I still find the ride rewarding.
Because I just simply enjoy riding my bike? Well, it’s true. I do. BUT, I can get my ya-ya’s out in 2 or 3 hours. I really don’t need to ride for 10+ hours. Truth is, the physical enjoyment of simply riding starts to fade after 3 or 4 hours, more or less. So no, that’s not really it, either.
Is it about communing with the natural world? Yeah, it sort of is. I, like most people, spend most of my time indoors. Riding my bike is one of my few times to spend time outside, far afield. Extended time. Like all day. That creates a different feeling than spending a few hours here and there. Or spending all day in your back yard. We may be on roads, but many of them are remote. And rando in Rothrock and Bald Eagle SPs (that what this blog started out being about, after all) is even better. There is a smell and feeling out there in the woods that’s somehow good for the soul. But I could get that from hiking, or camping. Something more civilized than riding a bike all day long. Then getting up the next morning and doing it again….
Camaraderie? A shared travail is always a positive thing, as it breeds goodwill. Friends in rando are good friends indeed. Hmmm. Maybe this is the key. I don’t really get this any other way. Perhaps it is telling that I have never done a perm or brevet solo. Not interested.
Well, perhaps it’s a combination of all of these things. Not all of these are at work at the same time, or all on the same ride. But collectively they provide enough motivation to get out there and do something audacious every once and a while. And it feels right. So I’ll keep doing it as long as I am able and willing.
Oh, as another form of explanation, this song captures a bit of the indescribable sentiment that I feel about riding my bike a long time. Riding a bike up and over the road’s obstacles then coasting down the flipside is a little bit metaphoric for life itself, I suppose. Is that deep?
You can do a lot in a lifetime, if you don’t burn out too fast. You can make the most of the distance, but first you need endurance, first you got to last….