Behind me the TV is on. Some talking head on ESPN is trying hard to sound intelligent about some NFL prospect. The NFL draft is looming, and ESPN devotes far, FAR to much time to it. It’s teams picking players. Picking teams. Remember when you were a kid on the playground, and teams were picked? That’s getting a week of TV coverage now.
Apparently the above mentioned prospect is 30lbs heavier than Peyton Manning.
And now I read Dave’s latest thoughts, as his evolution in the sport continues:
“Because its me and the course and it’s as simple as that. It’s pure. The only external influence on my actions is the wind, sun, trail. To me, this is the essence of athleticism – or dare I say the human experience.”
I hear that siren call of the solo mission. The lonely dark, the wide open spaces. Life is much to short to worry about going in laps (all the time) and certainly much to short to pontificate about how far this NFL prospect will slip because he doesn’t have the smarts of Tom Brady.
(I’m not making this stuff up, it’s on behind me…it’s awful.)
As I progress in this world of endurance racing, I am realizing how small it can make the rest of the world feel. After the KTR last year, I lined up at a local XC race. It felt…insignificant. I raced, and had fun, but at no point did I ever have to go anywhere near that spot I found on Troy’s Loop, sitting in the pseudo shade, eyes blurry, feet numb, and mind foggy. At that point everything was significant. Every forward movement, each pedal stroke, each rock and boulder and passing minute meant something.
I think that is what we are all trying to duplicate. Dave’s world seemed to change with that race. Mine did to. For the first time the “human experience” was as clear as it’s ever been. At least the athletic part of it. I’d be cheating my experience if I said that bike riding only, closed the gaps that family and religion fill.
But there is something about truly mind numbing physical exertion that brings people to their knees.
I won’t pretend that this only happens in bike rides. It must happen for runners and climbers and…football players? Do big time athletes have these epiphanies? Or are they to busy negotiating contracts, drive by shootings, snorting drugs and hangin’ with a posse to even notice?
That journey ultimately ends with the innocent and naive becoming the wise and learned. It is the discovery of the powerful self. Of knowing just how deep you can dig, when digging is all you have left.
ESPN doesn’t want to know about that though. They are to busy reporting about the arm strength and eating habits of college footballers to know that the real stories are taking place high in the mountains, or deep in the desert.