Let’s face it. We are all a bit damaged. Yes, we have God. We have family. We have love. But there is something that still draws us into the world of endurance sports. The world of pushing your limits past pain, through suffering, and flirting with the edges of insanity. All people are flawed of course but what brings a group of people that are just that much more needing to ride, run, and push themselves into this great quest.
I have seen many athletes come and go through my short career as a professional cyclist. I have seen strength fail, resilience prevail, and luck multiply. Maybe it is the bandages in the peloton that got me thinking about it, or perhaps it was being truthful looking at my own bandages within myself. My heart. My soul. My pride. Bruised. Broken. Bloody. The expenses that this sport costs are outweighed by the will and the insatiable need that brought us here.
Endurance sports attract a crop of people searching to conquer their own vulnerabilities, defeat their weaknesses, and learn to have courage through monotony. The race is long, and it is against ourselves. We have seen great athletes rise to the top, only to sink to the bottom. We have heard great stories of triumph, but many stories of constant mediocrity never get told. There is a “middle of the pack” that is going through the same tortuous cycle. In reality, we are all the same, regardless of reported and external results. None of us our middle of the pack because success is occurring within. We have stories, we have triumphs amidst the road rash that sometimes isn’t caused by asphalt but my others, ourselves, and unpredicted circumstances. And we do not give up.
So, are we all a little damaged in our chase of silencing our need for more? Maybe. But it is worth it. It is the process that makes us. Maybe that is why we have all found each other in a similar pursuit. I look at the world differently because of sport. I know that I can push through barriers, extend borders, and battle through rain, cobbles, mountains, and heartbreak. At one point this sport defined me. I saw nothing else. I finally separated the sport from who I am. It took losing the sport to realize that itwas part of expressing myself, deep turmoil and all, but I was so much more than a trite sport. Yet somehow, it continues to form me. This gave me the opportunity to challenge my vulnerability and continue to learn through this process and take each day as a gift. And yes, I continue to seek more, always challenging, always becoming better. Maybe we all are running away from our damaged selves. But maybe in this, there is a discarded layer of ourselves laying behind us, and we are renewed and stronger where we are today. Perhaps this really is the healing process. Or at least keeps us appearing more sane for the general population. At least we understand each other.
Whether you consider yourself damaged or not, no one is immune to the accumulation of wounds. Chicks (or guys) dig scars, right? If there is one thing I have learned, it is that no one is invincible. Therefore, let your scars tell the story, but not limit your capacity. Find strength in community, yourself and faith. Trust the ride. We are here for a reason.