Meditations on Racing Without A Bicycle to Race On

It’s around 90 or so days before the Grand Départ of this little thing I’m doing – the same little thing I’m documenting on this site.

I still don’t have a bicycle to ride the course.

Not many things give me much anxiety anymore these days. I used to have horrible, horrible anxiety nightmares over the smallest of things. I’d stay awake at night after attacks, never really understanding how to get rid of them, until I figured out a few things:

  • Most of the attacks were made worse – far far worse when I had drunk too much coffee. Less coffee = less anxiety attacks
  • Small things I had put off were enough to trigger them. Get the small thing accomplished, the attacks go away, replaced with a feeling of elation.
  • The last thing that stopped the attacks was the realization that it was just electrical storm in my head.

Once I was self-aware of what was happening, things didn’t seem so scary. I was able to just be an observer over what was happening and almost – almost enjoy it.

This race still gives me anxiety – most of it being nothing I can control. I’m worried that I will break something stupid, like my collarbone before the race, or will crash and break the bike/myself on day #1.

These are groundless worries – if I fall and break something, I fall and break something. Incredibly, I haven’t ever hurt myself that bad while riding bikes. What happens during the race, well, if I’m mindful of who I am, where I am and what I’m doing, I’ve done my best. The last thing I’m worried about is a bear. My own stupidity is my own worst enemy.

But, my present condition of not having a bicycle to race on gives me pause. The reason is quite simple – I can’t currently afford a mountain bike, without putting it on a card and that doesn’t seem worth it – the individual challenge of this event for me is partly to not to go into debt to race it. This is somewhat complicated by the fact that training for the race is itself a full  time job and takes away from actually working.

Work more, train less. Train more, work less. it’s a fine balance. Squeezing every last bit of time out of a day has become one of the skills I’m fine-tuning. I’m happy to be learning in some many ways. I live quite the simple life. I get along with few things. As Yvon Chouinard would say: I’m a dirtbag. But, as a dirt bag himself, Chouinard made the third ascent of Mont Fritz Roy, no small accomplishment. Dirt Bagging is the way to go. 

Strangely, another issue I’m having is even the idea of buying something New and Expensive, like, say – a mountain bike. Not that I won’t Ride the Sh*t out of one, but New and Expensive things purchased should be done with immense thought to them. I can’t but think of all the resources that are used and used up just to make a stupid bicycle. It’s something that should be done  at the very least with respect to what you are using up.   

In my adult life, I’ve bought one new bicycle, the rest of my machines have been used by others, before they’ve gotten to me. The one new bicycle was some BikeSource.com piece of shit – which I destroyed. Every piece of that bike, save perhaps the cranks, met their untimely fate to my ramblings. And, had to be replaced. I spent more on replacement parts than the bike, itself. A terribly expensive lesson (Buy Quality) learned.

Every other bike, I’ve bought used – mostly in piecemeal, over the winter as select parts became available at swaps or on Craigslist. In the Spring, I’d build it up and then take the creation on thousands and thousands of miles of roads, spanning countries. I never really cared about brands or parts – the frames I’d rattle-can black and any mention of a brand I cover with electric tape. De-tune the look of my rides has been one of my weapons against theft.

So as I’m looking at the present, as well as the future, I’m hoping for a miracle:

My work somehow picks up. Incredibly. I work for myself in many, many different avenues – basically whatever people offer as far as work, I take up.

Or, someone just hands me a bike. I don’t like this idea. I believe in earning my way through things. I don’t believe in taking shortcuts. If someone was to hand me something like that, I’d hand them ten times the worth of the machine in blood and sweat back, to repay the debt. I’m also no pro –  there’s talented, hard-working people out there that deserve their sponsorships. Give them the rides.

Or, I fall upon a great deal on the perfect bike, that needs a little work, but is Good Enough to do the job. That’s what hopefully will happen, very very soon.

If it doesn’t, I’ll still be at the start line at whatever I can cobble together. The engine, at least, will be the top of the line.