One of the many qualities that separates me from a pure racer is my inability to draw the iron gate that separates total ride focus from the thoughts that tend to taint the purity of my ride. Over the past week my focus has not aligned with what I was attempting to accomplish through winter training. Concern, worry, and distraction, have all entered and magnified themselves to the point where my enthusiasm for the ride creeps toward apathy. Especially when concern about the health for the ones I love overwhelm and cloud my mind. A new challenge faces me now. It is not one that can be gauged on the Garmin or any powermeter.
I have been blessed. For both of my parents are still in my company. However, my father’s ailing mind and body has forced us to make difficult decisions. Watching the man I have known and loved my whole life withering to a fraction of what he once was is difficult to clear from my thoughts. He was a mentor and a wonderfully caring person. He taught me many things. From woodworking to compassion to a new level of patience that I never thought I had as we dealt with him and his ailing mind. Raised in his native land he’d recall the times when Coppi and Bartali were the heroes of his day just like for many years he was the hero of mine.
My father’s inner strength is now being tested daily. Ironically it is at his weakest that he and we, now need to be at our strongest. Although his vocabulary is almost unintelligible, and his thoughts are a woven network of confusion, he still manages to to find humor in things and makes us laugh. I try to keep these special moments in mind when I think of him.
Presently, my passion for riding, training, and racing is weakened. They pale in priority and importance. But I will force myself to stay on the bike. I know what it does for me and need to keep it a part of my daily routine. If I am lucky, I will find that the physical pain from hard efforts might be exactly what I need to deflect the emotional headwind I am fighting. I may get stronger physically. But I am even more convinced I will get stronger mentally as well. One way or another I know I will find strength on my rides.