Excited to be racing in Boulder. Photo courtesy of Lee Waldman
The Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur just passed. Of all the holidays on the Jewish calendar, it is unarguably my favorite. On this one day each year I’m forced to take time and take stock of my life; how I’ve live it and how I’ve impacted the people and the world around me. I don’t race, I can’t train because I’m fasting for 24 hours. I have a lot of time. I also get to listen to my Rabbi speak. Most times, that’s a synonym for nap time, but this year, he shared a story that struck me as something worth staying awake for.
A famous Jewish teacher who died during The Holocaust wrote about Abraham. (If it seems that I’m getting too philosophical here, hang in for a minute longer.) And when this teacher spoke about the father of Judaism, here’s how he described him. “Abraham,” he said, “never stopped becoming.” And this particular choice of words caused me sit up, wake up, and start thinking. What a unique phrase: “never stop becoming.” That simple combination of four words also encapsulates a lot of the what, how and why we all became bike racers; more specifically, how we became cyclocross racers.
Because it’s not just about fitness, or winning, or buying all the cool equipment and clothes. It’s so much more than that. It’s about never accepting ourselves for who we are now. It’s about continually seeking, constantly striving. Each of us brings our own motivations, our individual needs and unique desires into this sport with us. But the one universal, the one thing that keeps us all “in it” even when it’s cold, muddy, sloppy, nasty, is the sense that through the challenges that cyclocross throws our way, we are all still becoming.
I wrote a couple of columns ago about what a great start I’ve had to this season. That was then. As with all aspects of life, nothing is consistent, nothing lasts forever and the high I had then has been tempered by races where I was tired or distracted from work. I’ve had mechanicals that have kept me out of the race at the front. Even though the season is short compared to the road season, cyclocross takes a lot out of us mentally and physically. There are weekends when it would be so much easier to go out for a social ride than to push through the pain. There are days when I just don’t want to train.
But, if you’re like me, the love of the sport and the personal rewards we receive get us up and on the bikes again. We are still becoming. Becoming better cyclists and as a result, better people. People who are willing to take risks, face challenges, stay the course even when there are so many barriers in the way. And now, like so much of what I’ve written for you lately, I have to remind myself that I’m talking about bike racing, not life. Or am I?
Enough. Go ride your bikes.