Recently I was reminded of how meaningful riding my bike can be. Sometimes we get caught up in the competitive nature of the sport and look forward to riding faster and faster with newer and lighter bicycles equipped with all the bells and whistles we can afford. Yet, there are those who remain focused on riding their bikes for nothing more than for the love of the ride itself. My father in law is one of these cyclists.
Although my father in law rode his bicycle as a boy in Northern Arizona. he picked up cycling in his late 60s and early 70s. He even competed in a few classics, duathlons, and tours around Arizona. However, he was never into the sport for the competition of it. He never cared what others thought of his cycling kit (or blatant lack thereof), his bicycle, or any of his gear. He especially never cared about his speed or distance. He simply loved to ride. He would ride throughout the year and routinely make stops at local gas stations to pick up some doughnuts and other tasty treats. Most of the time he rode with a white button down dress shirt and not a fancy cycling jersey because he preferred a front pocket for his phone. He always rode with a helmet, and typically with a bright orange construction vest. He was quite a sight to see – many would have been embarrassed by his attire. He even modified the nice carbon fiber race bicycle I bought him to have classic plastic pedals, a beach cruiser saddle, and mountain bike handlebars custom rigged for easy shifting. None of this ever bothered him because riding his bike simply made him happy.
About a week ago my father in law passed away at the age of 74. In reflecting on his joy in life and what he loved to do most, I couldn’t help but remember all of the cycling he loved to do. It was him who inspired me to dedicate my entire practice to representing just cyclists. He was in a terrible bike crash almost 4 years ago that nearly killed him. I represented him and helped him through his recovery. After that near fatal bike crash I decided I would dedicate an entire law firm to helping others just like him. In a way I owe my entire business to him.
His bike crash was no doubt the beginning of his end. After months in the hospital and rehab facilities he was finally able to return home. But he was never the same. Physically he was simply diminished and would never regain his mobility or strength. Cycling was still one of his favorite things to do and slowly he found the courage to ride again. But instead of competing he would ride around in local neighborhoods with his sweetheart on beach cruisers. His cycling days had in a large part come to an end. And now, his health had declined steadily to where he has left us.
What I learned:
I learned that as cyclists we should enjoy every moment of every pedal stroke. We should take in the scenery from every ride. Take advantage of every opportunity to be on our bikes and be grateful that we are lucky enough to be riding. We shouldn’t worry too much about our Strava rankings, or what our Garmin is recording so much as we should be concerned with how much we love the ride. I’m not suggesting that we cease competing, or that we must forever ride as slow as possible. To the contrary, I am suggesting that we enjoy every ride to the fullest. We should enjoy every early morning – gut wrenching – leg throbbing ride as if it may be our last. While you are pushing for that new PR take a deep breath and look around you as well and love the ride.
We needn’t worry if our custom cycling kits match our bikes. We shouldn’t waste our time concerning ourselves over whether our cycling buddy’s new bike is 2 grams lighter than ours. Life is indeed too short. When you get an opportunity to ride, ride for the love of the ride. Your cycling will be better for it.
In loving memory of William Michael Huso: 11/19/1940 – 2/10/2015. I love to ride my bicycle more because of you dad. Thank you, love you.