It’s springtime in the Midwest. It’s been raining all but nonstop for the last four days. We who call this place home all can identify with the same routines despite our different occupations. Wake up, look outside at the grey sky. Then, a subconscious “whatever” as we compel ourselves to go about the day’s commitments. Maybe you’re up before dawn, the blanket of cold bearing down as you walk to your car or into your place of employment, trudging along underneath the trees devoid of leaves and color, the snowmelt, the rain.
We prepare some breakfast, we go to work, we pick up the kids, we try to fit in time for ourselves regardless of what that entails– for some, a recliner and a television, for some, a book, for others, some form of exercise.
Responsibilities swarm our minds as we thing about what’s next on the list. For me, fortunate enough to call riding my bicycle an “obligation” and a “commitment” as a racer for Project Echelon, my day’s escape comes in the form of training, going about preparing my body to perform at the pro level in the sport of road cycling. It’s an extreme version of a human necessity: the physical outlet. This surplus of physical activity won’t be a reality for me throughout my entire life as I ultimately phase out of the elite level of sport and into the next chapter. Regardless, I plan on sustaining this outlet even if opportunities become limited– riding two or three times weekly.
For some of us, privileged enough to compete at a high level in sport, this outlet sometimes feels like a burden. Some days it’s necessary to force myself onto my bicycle with muscles fatigued, cold temperatures, mind elsewhere. I bring my focus towards the millions of people who don’t have this opportunity– stuck into their daily obligations with nowhere to turn, no ability to re-set their internal compass and resume their routine mindfully.
I return from my ride. I’m sore, tired, hungry, but with endorphins flowing and mind teeming with potential, with positive thought. I look at my Garmin screen– ride time: two hours. But more often than not, it’s my 30 minute easy rides that provide this for me. I embark into the rest of my day with clear thought and defined purpose.
Us at Project Echelon are dreamers. What if we started acknowledging this outlet for what it is: a human necessity? The equivalent of a multivitamin, proper hydration, or adequate sleep. The physical outlet can clear the mind. It can provide rational insight into the complex issues we face everyday as humans. It can heal. Let’s start treating it as such. start treating it as such.
Riding in fog feels nice because your sight is limited to the road directly before you and nothing detracts from the process at hand: pedaling.