24 Hour Epilouge

It took a long time to find myself again after April’s ride.  Four months of an emotional rollercoaster – Some days good and some days not so good.  How strange that must sound.  But my eyes finally opened, and I found myself past my goal and...well...happy.

A true journey is one that leaves you a better person than you were when you set off.  You knew where you wanted to travel to, and despite sometimes having no idea of what was about to happen, you always knew that everything would be ok.  Thus, at the finish you look back at the path travelled...and look around to see who’s still there – next to you and still believing in this goal you didn’t give up on.  Bit like life really.

100 decisions everyday.  Some more import than others.  But 100.  So no more ‘racing’.  For now winning and losing can wait.  Truth be known, there is enough winning for everyone to have a piece.  A big piece if that’s what they want.  Big enough to fill their soul.

The people.  That is what I’ll miss.  The ebb and fall, battles against (and with), people who I respect and formed friendships with.  But life is short, and this world is very big.

I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t do that first race??  Would I have lost the weight??  Would I care what people thought??  Would the last few years have been so special??  It doesn’t matter.  I have a road ahead of me, and so do you.  So choose your goals and let no one tell you what is right or wrong for your journey.  Then chase those goals – Like a child.  That is, eye on the goal and little thought for all else.  Living the day.

I recall saying to Nick Dunne that there was something perverse about being in the best shape of my life, and also being stressed out to the extent that I wasn’t sleeping.  Something is wrong if you are pursuing your dream and a reoccurring thought is to avoid ‘defeat’.  Keep in mind, I had lost almost 40kg, had a very supportive network of friends and family, a great support crew, a large number of my peers following the ride’s progress online, and so much more.  But a later realisation in the weeks and months after the ride would have me coming to accept that I had experienced a detour.  The most magnificent, life changing, beautiful detour you can ever imagine.  But I realised that I had have been moving further and further away from my true love in this sport.

Yes.  I am inspired by a single aspect of this sport.  I suppose it took a while to realise that the one common theme every time I had an amazing experience, was that factor that was also on every ride - ‘Mileage’.  “How many kilometres was the ride??”  “How many kilometres this week??”  “How many kilometres for the month??”  There is some kind of magic in the knowledge that distance covered has been totally under your own power.  Wake.  Prepare.  Ride all day.  Recover.  Rest.  Sleep.  Repeat.  This is what I love.  This is what I have next.  This is where I will go.

Chasing your own ‘narrow paths’ and Taupo Enduro’s and Taupo Maxi Enduro’s and Graperide Ultimate’s and Ironman’s and Aka’s Triple Loops and 16 hour hill repeat rides and 15 hour overnight unsupported track rides and 24 hour Record Rides.  Yes.  There for everyone.  Simply open the door and walk through.  Walk away from self doubt, small minds, and easily reached destinations.  Instead, find yourself realising from time to time that the tightrope you are standing on has no safety net.  And view is now different because you no longer see the land.  Very soon you come to realise that the feeling you are experiencing is in fact your body and mind growing accustomed to you feeling alive.  Truly alive.  An ‘alive’ where you know that the sand running through your fingers will run out and thus every grain of sand gains value – and you never once think of closing your hand.  Let it run out.  Savour every single moment.  And then disappear. 

There is nothing to fear.  Close your eyes and if you wish hard enough you open them with you sitting in a darkened room – and you will know that when you open the door to the outside world there will be only light.  And nothing else.  For me, that door was not opened in April.  It was opened in 2005 when I sat on the start line of my first race.  I didn’t care where I finished.  And truth be known I still don’t.  They have all been goals.  Nothing more and nothing less.  Nothing more – Life is more important than cycling goal.  Nothing less – Completing the goals has at times been bigger than all my world.  A contradiction then it seems.  And that is what makes it so special.  This sport.

You are no longer standing in a queue with your hand out, hoping for the best.  No.  You are standing in the sun and wind and rain, feeling and seeing, and living.  Let’s not forget living.  That is, after all, why we are here.  To live.  Never ever forget that.  Because this will pass.  The good moments and the not so good.  The tears of joy and the sorrow that we may encounter.  The bonds forged and the disappointment in those who didn’t believe.  All fleeting.  All temporary.  All gone by each of our ‘tomorrows’.

This has been quite some journey, and the next one will be even better.  Everything else is just noise now – The most beautiful noise.  Of children shouting, weekends with family, and commutes to work by bike during the week.  Time to admire the view and share life with those I encounter.  The adventures are not over however.  That pull that tells me that a journey awaits is on the horizon.  At quieter moments I take the time to look at a map I have on my office wall.  Laps are the theme once again.  And this time, not two laps.  Or four.  Or five.  Or 1,537.  No.  Just one.  One big lap.  By bike...

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