Cycling means a lot to me. It’s given me meaningful memories, whether being chased on a laden touring bike uphill by a bull in Corsica or discovering a Moroccan farming valley’s hospitality at sunset or the frustration of hitting the deck at 30 mph+ on the road from Durango to Silverton, Colorado at the collegiate national championships. It gives me a break from writing, from routine. It’s given me some of my closest friends, just as rowing has. I want to give back to the community around this sport. Here is a first step … The following is an essay at cycling Web site Red Kite Prayer.
The months of February and March reside well within winter’s confines, but still offer the passionate cyclist a visual bounty.
There is the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, where the apotheosis of frame building is on display to the merry pilgrims who can travel to Denver to seek meaning in machines.
In Northern Europe, brute paths and farm roads that for hundreds of years were the weary arterials of Western civilization begin to coat the peloton with the requisite mud and manure that precedes the professional cyclist’s ablution ahead of Holy Week – De Ronde and Paris-Roubaix.
Our eyes feast.
Yet, for many of us, our hearts are cold. Inside, winter’s bite stings. It is a deep chill, deeper than has been felt in years. Or ever.
Maybe it is midlife. Or worst fears realized. Or a sense of betrayal, the worst kind, by legends who we knew to be our physical superiors and discovered to be our moral inferiors. The sport’s elite have pushed their bodies farther than we can legally and morally abide. Yet we still clothe ourselves just like them.
Cycling is searching for its soul at the very time when the bicycle itself approaches technical perfection