On Sunday Keith, still recovering from the Afghanistan atrophy holiday, and myself, still warming up the legs after a long six months of decline, made our way out to Harvard and back by way of Concord and Hanscom AFB. Perhaps it was too little to eat during the endeavor, or perhaps the cold, or the memory of our former strength compelling us beyond our limits, but by our return both Keith and I were on the edge, focus fading, the cold penetrating further with each mile, a slow slide into caloric deficeit. Keith's buffalo chicken wings and my cheesey poofs were perhaps not the ideal ride food. This was a good reminder of the attention we must give toeverything. In retrospect, it is obvious that BBQ sauce, with more sugar than Buffalo sauce, and cheesey crunches, which have less air than cheesey poofs, would have been more intelligent choices.
But cheesey poofs are a natural segue to matters of philosophy. Given the options out there, why do we choose cheesey poofs over pita crisps, and stage races over marathon sessions of TV or chess, and what does this say about our purpose? There are many ways to contribute to the great mission - we all have a responsibility to contribute to society in a productive way, and this also means that we should contribute to culture. For me, racing is a form of service to society, it is my culture. It is certainly not the pinnacle of service, but it can be done with this element in mind. Competitions are more trials of our will in the long months prior. A great performance is something that may last only a few brief moments, but the effort required in getting there is something that permeates and defines a life. Competitive sports, and cycling especially so, is a way which holds focus, grace and sacrifice as its highest virtues. These are noble virtues, ones very much in need of a voice. Ultimately, racing and competition is a platform for introspection and awareness, cutting into the deep questions of identity and existence. This is my religion, my bike my church.