A week without riding.
Last year this would have been nothing out of the ordinary but this is only the third week this year; one after a nasty fall, and two due to the seasonal virus that’s going around Melbourne. This morning, on day 7 of this cold I thought I’d be up for a ride, even just a gentle one to turn the legs over. I even made a time to meet up with the guys, but as the morning has developed so has that feeling in my chest. Chilly winter wind is the last thing my lungs need today. Even more than wanting to ride, I want to feel well. I’ve got an important week coming up and it would be better if I don’t sound like a walrus during meetings. Many times in the past I’ve been in this position, not taken the cautious option and paid the price. My thinking has been short-term – wanting to keep up my stats for the week or wanting that immediate feeling or being alive that I get on the bike.
This feeling is something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit while lying on the couch watching movies. Yesterday I watched my favourite ski film, Steep. I love it because it captures in the most beautiful way the spirit of skiing – and something that goes beyond that. It’s a way of being, of experiencing life – not settling for the standard script, for the 9-5 life. My heroes have always been adventurers, and explorers, often solitary figures in the wilderness – Scott and Amundsen, Hillary and others.
Now, I’m not a great skier by any standard but I have certainly broken through many fears on the snow the precious days I have out there are some of the days when I feel the most alive. Listening to the great pioneers of extreme skiing, like the late Doug Coombs Anselme Baud, Bill Briggs, Stefano De Benedetti, Glen Plake, Ingrid Backstrom, and Bill Briggs, made me think again how unnatural it is for us to live such sedentary, safe, and boxed up lives. The scariest thing is how normal this is. And yet our bodies are developed for movement – to walk and run, climb, leap, you name it. Over the years, I’ve experienced the best health and overall wellbeing when I’ve found ways of integrating movement and real exertion into my day, coupled with a bit of ‘the edge’ – doing what we love while accepting the risk. This is the real difference between getting on a bike at the gym versus riding in the elements – wind, rain, cars. Total safety might keep you alive, ironically though, I’m pretty sure it’s also what kills the spirit. Surely too, this is why we’re drawn to watching adventures, and action, were we see others take the risk that has become such a foreign part of ordinary existence.
I’m not saying we all have to take up base jumping and extreme skiing. I think we all have our own ways of accessing the feeling of being alive. I used to also get it when I was dancing a lot. Hardly life threatening, but it was thoroughly invigorating. However, what I am saying is if we have found this edge, we need to find a way of integrating it into our lives on a regular basis. And if you haven’t found your own way of experiencing this then keep looking and being open to the new!