When your stressed, people often say, “you need an outlet”. When life gets too hectic, you need someplace to go. Many comfort themselves with food, drugs or alcohol. Others turn to therapy and prescription meds. While I agree that the latter is the better solution, it does not work for everyone. I often wonder why things are the way they are. I ask myself, where did I go wrong? What could I have done differently? The more I think of things, the more stressed I get. It affects my sleep, my blood pressure, my work and most importantly, my relationships with family and friends.
I won’t discuss here what it is that haunts me, but I will say that it has not been easy the last few years. That said, I am grateful for who I am, who I have in my life and what I have as a result. And, I do realize that people go through worse things.
What’s kept me pushing forward, kept me centered and brought me some peace, even for just a few hours a day, is the same thing that makes my legs hurt, my heart race and my lungs gasp for air, cycling. The simple task of turning the pedals, flying down a hill, with the wind at your back or floating upward with ease is a buzz that only a cyclist can know.
I’ve done a lot of solo rides lately and it’s not always easy getting out there, but once I do, no matter how the ride goes, whether on road, gravel or trail, my mood gets increasingly better. There’s no need to feel guilty about escaping for a little while. No need to feel guilty about hopping on a bike and getting lost, even if commitments dictate that you should be somewhere else or doing something different.
When I finish, as I’m hanging my bike and taking off my shoes, I do not immediately dive into life’s problems. I hold onto that ride for as long as I can. Then, I’m better equipped to handle my problems. I am going to ride for as long as I can, because cycling is my system of survival.