Each Wednesday night in September, the cycling community of Bend grabs their bikes and heads down to the Athletic Club where we ride around in dusty circles, enjoy a fair amount of good-natured heckling, and bury ourselves in some early season cross racing.
Last night was race #4 for of the Thrilla series and it was quite unique – it rained. I overheard Kevin say, just before the race began, that this was the first time in 10 years that it has rained for a Thrilla.
Racing in the rain is special for so many reasons, but the one that stands out for me is the display of passion each racer exudes as they pedal their bike through the rain, sand, and mud – and for what?
Why do we do this?
Why don’t we stay home with a good book and some comfort food and watch the rain fall from the coziness of our well-heated homes?
Why get covered in wet sand, just to go home and cover the entire house with this sand?
Because we love to race bikes. PERIOD.
At some point in last night’s race, I passed a woman full of passion and strength and determination. I saw her a few turns ahead and smiled to see her racing in the rain. As I went to make the pass, I gave a few encouraging words and she said to me, “You are my inspiration.”
These words caught me off guard. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and knew at the moment why I race.
It is for reasons greater than local glory, and greater than the goal of some higher level of accomplishment. Is for a reason greater than myself. It is about the community, and being a part of this community, and offering something to the others who share this space. At that moment, when Kathy spoke those words, with heaving lungs and beating heart, that I was reminded why I started this whole silly thing called bike racing. Because there is something special shared among those who toe the line, those who head out in the cold and the rain and dark.
It is something that no words, at least not mine, can do justice.
It is something deep within that rises to the surface at the most improbable moments, taking us over our edge, pushing us further and faster and harder. And this something is beautiful. Awesome. Strong. Unstoppable.
Kathy, you've got this something. I am so proud of you.