It’s a foggy Sunday, late afternoon, and I’ve thought a lot about riding my bike today, but I haven’t done it. Instead, I’ve watched professionals on television cruising through the mountains of the Tour de France. I can see the determination and pain on their faces as the competitive drive runs deep in their veins. I wonder if their love for cycling has changed over the years they’ve spent in the saddle? Do they ever think back to a recent stage and say, “That was fun!” The pressures these men feel have driven some of them to take less than desirable measures to perform better than otherwise would be possible. I wonder if those men have lost sight of what got them swinging a leg over their machines in the first place. I hope not. I hope they still have a part of them that just wants to go for a bike ride, because that’s what it is; just a bike ride.
I realize that I don’t have much in common with the guys on TV but one thing I think I share with them is the fact that I can easily become deeply consumed by the same competitive spirit that put them in the position they’re in. And, often, during those moments that I’m racing, I don’t think about why I’m doing it, but rather how I must continue to do the best that I can no matter what. Recently, I participated in the Lutsen 99’er, a 99-mile sweep through the north woods of Minnesota, just off the shores of Lake Superior. I promised myself that “I’d give myself an honest chance” in that race. What I mean by that is that I vowed to go as hard as I could, that I’d go as deep as I could, in order to have the highest finish I could. Throughout the six-plus hour race I didn’t think about the scenery, nor did I think about how much fun I was having. All I thought about was hanging onto the wheel in front of me.
Although the competitive spirit reigned supreme during the race, it was when I was finished that the other side of cycling reminded me that it still has a home within me, and that it resides right next door to the competitive side. The feelings of joy and love for the sport flooded through me after crossing the line. I felt the beauty of what can be done on a bike no matter what the skill level. The images of the day flashed through my mind with an intensity that made me feel as if I were still living those same hours.
I like that I have two sides of cycling living within me. I love this sport and I love what it can teach me about myself, whether I’m on the bike or just thinking back to what I did when I was on it.
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Tim (Eki) Ek
Tim Ek was born and raised in Duluth, Minn., and still calls it home. He’s always had a passion for competition and seeking his own extremes. Tim's true love is the woods: Out in the wild is where he clears his head and finds his peace, and he prefers getting there by bike. Tim Ek: The Eki Chronicles, ekichronicles2.kinetic-fitness.com