When I started bike racing I was infatuated with the concept of going. All I needed was my two-wheeled magic machine and I could go anywhere- away from school, away from home, to different towns, different states- even different countries. I was astonished, at age 15, by how far my own two legs and a set of wheels could take me. Going gave me a sense of power and purpose.
Then the going wasn’t just physical. I realized that training was a good excuse for almost anything, and that racing was an even better one. Soon I wasn’t just getting out of the house; situations, relationships, and problems couldn’t touch me either. My bike could get me out of anything.
It was really pretty convenient- I could entertain any sort of life I felt like, and then when it got boring (which used to happen pretty often) I could just… go. I loved leaving. What I didn’t count on was that I, too, would eventually find myself torn between places. Without exactly meaning to, I’ve gathered some moss, and for the first time in my life I don’t feel that great about ditching it all.
Yep, packing the car for my first trip this year was hard. The word “sacrifice” kept repeating in my head, and I realized for the first time why everyone says this lifestyle can be so difficult. I’m not just leaving a place; I’m leaving my chances of getting any sort of paying job, leaving the comforts of home, and sacrificing (yes, sacrificing) time with the people I love. Yet I’m still doing it. Why? I had plenty of lonely car time to think about it.
The word “sacrifice” is a funny one. To me it’s always had a self-serving, unnecessary sort of drama to it, and when I hear it I picture either a hysterical woman in a frilly dress, wrist clamped theatrically to her forehead, or some kind of frightening ritual involving antlers and blood. Maybe that’s why it was so surprising to me that “sacrifice” was the word in my head this week. I looked it up to try and figure out why. Here’s what I found:
Sacrifice: to give up (something important or valued) for the sake of other considerations
Something important or valued. That was the key. The word was in my head because basically, this was my first taste of sacrifice: somehow I met some important, valuable people who made biking, my magical two-wheeled escape, into merely “other considerations.” Yet I’m still journeying, alone, a couple states south. It is a sacrifice, and although it lacks antlers, blood, or dresses, it still feels kinda dramatic. Sorry, Important Valuable people…
Unfortunately the universe wasn’t content to let me just leave it at that. By the end of this first drive of the season I’d learn the meaning of sacrificing important valuable mufflers, important valuable headlights, and important valuable sanity (not to mention important valuable money, time, and energy), all to the cause of “bike”.
It started when I sacrificed “control” and played skating rink with my car in Idaho, doing a few (graceful) revolutions on the highway before slamming sideways into the snowbank and knocking a bunch of things off my car. I was facing the wrong way, but luckily the semi behind me had been following at a reasonable distance and had time to move over/not hit me. I pulled into the auto body shop (conveniently about 100 yards away… hmmm) and spent about fifteen minutes just trying to control my shaking. Next thought: are my bikes ok!? The mechanics said they thought I’d need to change my pants.
Luckily my dad has some awesome friends in SLC, so I got to stay in a real bed, eat real food, and talk to real (and cool) people that night instead of huddling alone in some godforsaken hotel room. I got my still-cracked muffler wired back into place, scoffed at the $180 it’ll cost to get my headlight fixed, and got back on the road by noon the next day. All good, baby. Sacrifice: take that. I’m stoked to be alive!
And suddenly, going is still going. I got to Saint George at twilight and smelled the grass and water, saw the red dirt, and started to remember why I make the sacrifices.