Scott Mercier: Thinking about why you ride amid the uncertainty of COVID-19
Special to The Aspen Times
COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the globe. Nearly 50,000 Americans have died and tens of millions are out of work. Virtually every sporting event, including cycling events and even the Olympic Games, has either been canceled or postponed. The 2020 Tour de France has been delayed until the end of August with no assurances that it will be raced at all.
The local cycling scene has been impacted as well; the 26th annual Ride for the Pass, originally scheduled for May 16, is postponed and the Aspen Cycling Club has delayed its start until at least June.
As Colorado moves from a stay-at-home order to a safer-at-home suggestion, more and more people will be heading out. Many, I’m sure, will be heading out on bikes. But when and how are important considerations.
The first suggestion I’d make is that this is a great time to reflect on what the bike means to you. Why do you ride? Is it for the adrenaline, health reasons, the social aspect, to fill your competitive void, vanity, pleasure and pain, or maybe a combination of many reasons? Regardless, spend a little time thinking about why you ride. If you don’t know, that’s OK, too. Maybe it’s just because…
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When I think of the reasons I ride, and there are many, I can’t get past the notion that riding a bike, at least the way I do it, is pretty selfish. I’ve encouraged my wife, son and daughter to ride bikes. And they do; and they even enjoy it to a certain extent. In my vanity, I thought I wanted them to ride because it would be something that I could give them; the joy of riding a bike. There’s certainly some truth to that sentiment. But it’s always really been about me and that’s a harsh truth for me to stomach.
So, where am I going with this? In a strange way, I think some selfishness is OK. To take care of others you have to take care of yourself first; to love others, you have to love yourself first. It has to start with you. And for your own sanity, especially at a time like this, you need to do something for yourself. But how do we do this without crossing the line to where it becomes all about us?
It starts with reflection. Maybe you’re riding and training for some big event; it’s probably 50/50 at best the event you’re training for even happens. Training for something that may not occur can only lead to stress, and no one needs more stress at a time like this. And let’s be honest, what does “big” even mean? At the end of the day, it’s just a bike race.
For me, I’ve realized that riding a bike is an important aspect of my life. I need it and I love it. And I’ve tried to jam it down my family’s throat. I’ve wanted them to love and enjoy riding more than they have wanted it for themselves. This has led to stress, frustration and guilt. I’ve positioned riding to them as something they need, so they can feel like I do when I ride. When the reality is it’s something I need. I’m still going to encourage them to ride, and to invite them to ride with me, but I’ll try to do it on their terms rather than my own. I’ll be honest and let them know riding as a family is meaningful to me; it makes me feel good. And with that recognition, maybe they’ll want to ride more. Maybe they’ll realize that when they ride with me, they’re giving me a gift.
These are troubling and uncertain times. It’s not hyperbole to say we haven’t seen something like this in our lifetime, and with any luck, won’t again. As I reflect, I’m filled with an enormous sense of gratitude, and hopefully, humility. I’ve been blessed with good fortune.
Take care of yourself; for me, that means going for a ride.
Scott Mercier represented Team USA at the 1992 Olympic Games and had a five-year professional career with Saturn Cycling and The U.S. Postal Services Cycling teams. He currently works in Aspen and can be reached at email@example.com.
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