Haunting in the best possible way

As I was riding away from campus on my bicycle a little bit ago, I passed a guy in a motorized wheel chair with crutches on the back of it. They were the type of crutches that shout permanent disability, but it was his gaze that caught my attention. He was tracking my passing with an intention that I don’t often see from people, especially someone who is most likely bound to his wheel chair for good. It was not a look of jealousy or depression, but one of joy that honestly caught me off guard. The look in his eyes was as if he was excited to see someone on a bicycle enjoying something he can no longer do. As I continued down the road I couldn’t get that look out of my mind. It was haunting in the best way possible. It struck me quite profoundly that someone unable to ride a bike could enjoy watching a complete stranger ride by doing what he most likely will never do the rest of his life. I suddenly felt extremely lucky and blessed to be able to simply ride a bicycle. It was an unexpected reminder to enjoy the simple things in life, but at the same time learn to enjoy watching others do what you may never have the ability to do with out jealousy or frustration.

Suffering… it needs to happen more often!

The last two weeks have been a very enjoyable time for me on the bicycle. I have been blessed with some amazing cycling friends who have invited me along on some ridiculous rides that I will never forget. The first was two weeks ago with Loren Schaeffer, we did a 157 mile bike ride with over 11,000′ of climbing, the next week I did an 80 mile ride with 3 solid climbs and then yesterday I got to participate in the Rapha Gentelmans Race in the mountains above LA. All 3 of these rides were hard. Lots of climbing and much suffering on the bike was done. Its this suffering that has come to mind most, especially after the 157 miler and yesterdays 102 miles with over 13,000′ of climbing through some brutal dirt/sand/rock jeep trails. I came across a quote by Jeff Bean aka @BikeCrave a while back on instagram and this one portion really stuck out to me a lot. 

“Suffering at its core strips bare any pretense or pride. It clarifies. It humbles. It liberates.”

From what I see most days, the concept of suffering seems to be avoided at all costs. It has become the American way in a sense. Make everything as quick and easy as possible, but in this process we have lost touch with who we are as people. We have lost perspective and clarity. For the most part we have lost all sense of humility and in the process have become enslaved to things instead of being liberated by the freedoms of this great nation. 

With this said, having intentionally put myself through some extremely tough hours on the bike. I cannot help but agree more and more with the quote above. Sitting outside this morning with coffee in hand and the sun shining, I feel such a sense of peace and joy. I have a sense of clarity that I wish I had everyday. I feel no need to prove myself to anyone because I know what I have accomplished and gone through. Any sense of inadequacy or feelings of being ovelooked or unimportant that stem from my childhood are gone… for now at least. I know who I am, what I capable of, what my weaknesses are and I’m alright with that. I may not have much in some peoples eyes, but I feel more blessed than ever right now.