It’s just below freezing outdoors and probably 45F in my dimly lit garage. A laptop computer sits on top of a cluttered, grease-stained workbench in front of me. Two tiny lines ripple across the screen in front of me. One line charts wattage and forms a jagged trend which roughly follows an interval workout. The other line charts my up-and-down heart rate which lags below the wattage line left-to-right across the screen. Even though it’s cold, there is a small trickle of sweat dripping down my forearms as I spin on the trainer. The sweat forms two small puddles beneath the handlebars. My eyes are glued to the screen watching the slow progress of these two little lines bounce up and down. Inside the house my family is still asleep. Outside the house the sky is still filled with darkness and stars. I’m a couple weeks past my 44th birthday and, as I suffer alone on my stationary bicycle, I contemplate what the hell I’m doing.
It all adds up to the questions of: Why do we do this? Why do I do this?
A recent trip to the supermarket put me in the checkout lane behind a balding middle-age man. While I didn't notice his face, he was wearing khaki shorts and a pumpkin orange San Francisco Giants Baseball jersey. To my surprise, I looked down and saw a fresh Giants logo tattooed into the man’s calf muscle
(in case you didn't know, cyclists are always inadvertently checking out calf muscles).
“Wow” I thought, “this guy is really a fan! His tattoo matches his shirt!” As I pushed my shopping cart through the crowded parking lot I happened to notice a bright orange SUV parked prominently at the end of the long row of parked cars. Sure enough, looking over my shoulder, here comes Mr. SF Giants! I instantly knew who owned that car!
This morning, spinning away on the trainer I’m thinking about the SF Giants guy. He’s made a commitment to his sport (a permanent commitment based on his tattooed calf). His hopes rise and fall with a 162 game baseball season. He follows the stats of rising rookie prospects and the decline of aging veterans. He probably frets over the finicky owners who make trades and sign players to long term deals. I know this guy… In some ways, I AM this guy!
But, there is one key difference. Instead of having my hopes tied to a baseball team, my hopes are tied to my own performance. Riding on the trainer this morning I realize that I’m following my own stats; planning my own season; cheering myself on. By riding my bike I’m in control of my own destiny instead of watching someone else’s destiny. I’m my own little team!
Without getting too preachy on the topic, it seems that we've slowly become a nation of watchers instead of a nation of doers. It’s easy to watch a television show and feel yourself become exhilarated by the action and the drama. It’s fun to follow people on social media and give them “likes” and post comments; but hours later the guilt of hours in front of the computer takes its toll. It’s far more difficult to actually experience the action and the drama of real life. It’s also far more satisfying.
Every year I pick out a new adventure to tackle. Call it a “bucket list” if you will. A few years ago it was completing the Death Ride. Next up was hiking Mt. Whitney in a day. Last year it was hiking the Grand Canyon in a day. Over the winter it was teaching myself to downhill ski. At 44 years old there’s no need to “do” any of this! There’s no need to be riding my bike in a dark garage at 5am in the morning.
Still that’s where I am, on the bike, in the garage spinning away, following two little lines across a computer screen. I've got to get myself in shape for the upcoming cycling season and hopefully support my race team at a few events this year. And, as I spin along, there’s a wry smile on my face because I know that I am still a do’er instead of a watcher. And that’s why I’m in the garage…
Go Giants! - Steve Hammond
The Reno Cycling Team p/b Nature’s Bakery is the competitive arm of the Reno Cycling Club. Both the Club and Team are aligned with Reno Cycling & Fitness and are focused on education, safety and fun. We train and race to push each other to meet our true potential.