Reasons to be thankful

I’ve hardly been cycling in the 5-6 weeks since my crash on Labour Day weekend.  The scrapes have mostly healed and my concussion symptoms seem to be improving.  But I still need to be careful about returning to the bike too quickly. Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, I thought I’d list some things that I’m grateful for:

  1. My health.  I don’t feel a whole lot different at 50 than I did at 49 or 48.  But I do feel different now than I did at 40.  Back then I was more focused on training and getting faster for events like the 24-hour and 8-hour mountain bike relays.  I also spent significant time in my basement on a trainer. Now, at 50, I still love to ride as much as ever, but the focus has shifted.  I’m not worried about speed or distance (although it was nice to get my first 200 km ride in this year).  I’m more interested in riding for the pure joy – the physical fitness and just being outdoors. With my crash last month, I am reminded of my fragility.  Out there on the road or the trail, it’s basically me sitting on a 15-40 pound piece of metal/carbon/rubber travelling at speeds of up to (and over) 40 km/h.  One small bump and I hit the ground with little protection (helmets are helpful, but the rest of me is exposed).  So with all the miles I’ve cycled this year (and previous years) and in conditions ranging from torrential downpours, thunderstorms, cold and wintery winds, blizzards, mud, hiking my bike through waist deep swamps… I’m grateful that I’ve been able to get through these conditions relatively unscathed. While I may have taken my health for granted in the past, I no longer do.
  2. My family.  Ask any middle aged, active adult and they’ll likely tell you the same thing:  they have very supportive spouses and families.  I’m not just talking about support at events to cheer and encourage.  It runs a lot deeper than that.  I’m thinking about the kind of support that’s needed to be away for an entire day (or weekend) for a long ride or event.  I’m thinking about the kind of support that allows us to fuel our passion for cycling with bikes, clothing, event registrations, bike parts.  I most definitely have a supportive family. In addition to this, I’m grateful for my extended family.  Having siblings (and now nieces) who are avid cyclists not only gives us riding companions, it also gives us a common thread for discussion at family gatherings (just ask our spouses, who are painfully familiar with our seemingly endless conversations about bikes, biking, bike events, bike parts …).
  3. My job.  My current profession can be very stressful at times.  I work in the environmental field and like many professions, there are ebbs and flows.  Sometimes we are incredibly busy, trying to meet deadlines.  Other times, things are slower.  We’ve even had some layoffs in my company in the last year or two.  I’m fortunate in that I’ve kept my job.  It’s a challenge some times, but the company I work for continues to bring in interesting work from all around the world.
  4. My cycling community.  What can I say?  I’ve been very lucky to meet many fine folks with whom I’ve been able to share my passion for cycling.  I got my first real mountain bike in 1992 (an Iron Horse) and rode the trails around Dundas with my bro regularly.  After taking some years off (around when I became a dad), I got my first mountain bike with suspension in 2002 (Kona).  It was then that I started entering events (my first P2A was that year as well as my first 24-hour mountain bike relay… I even guest-blogged here.) And, I joined the Waterloo Cycling Club and got to know the local trails (The Hydrocut) and I got to know many of the cyclists in my area.  This community extends well beyond Waterloo Region.  I have three siblings who are active in the cycling world in the province, I’ve got to know many cyclists from all over the province:  racers, tourists, roadies, mountain bikers, fatbike riders, advocates, plus many shop owners, mechanics, event organizers and many others affiliated with this wonderful sport.

What are you grateful for?

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