Asceticism, Cycling and the New Year

Addiction comes in all forms. Some only replace one addiction for another. Many are healthy. Many are not; but much of it comes from the amount of life it absorbs and how much of that “new” addiction takes away from the ones you love. Yes, the word would be obsession. I tend to have that trait. I have pretty much lived by the mantra of 100% or nothing. I have to keep a close watch on things. I have, in the past, dragged myself onto my bike, sick as a dog, to put in my daily mileage, thinking that I am doing what is best to attain my cycling form. I cannot let this day pass, when others are out there working hard and getting better than I am. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Cycling is something that I truly and deeply enjoy. My family (my wife in particular) is very flexible and generous when it comes to my riding. I have a lot of money wrapped up in the sport. About a year ago, I caught myself constantly thinking about bike upgrades, kits and what could give me one more watt, like the weekend golfer who is constantly buying the weird whatchamacallit to shave two strokes off of his game. The fact is that a person will only be as good as his work and talent allow. A person cannot just sit around and only allow talent to move them along, nor can a person without any athletic skill or training hop on a $13,000 road bike and drop other riders at will. There is a balance.

Asceticism is one of those things in cycling that I actually enjoy. If you have not heard of the word, it is a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline: the condition, practice, or mode of life of an ascetic : rigorous abstention from self-indulgence. Many times this word is related to a religion (another reason I have to very careful about priorities). When I deny myself cakes or donuts when everyone else is eating them at work, my abstention is helping my overall health and weight to boost my watts per kilogram. I cringe when I hear someone say, “I ride hard or workout to eat what I want.” I just really enjoy the discipline of it all. I am reminded of my sacrifices when I am climbing a steep and prolonged gradient, while feeling in complete control of myself and the bike.

This brings me to the new year. I do not have a list of resolutions. Although I do think about something that I could hone and make better as an overall person. During the holidays, I did some digging on my iPhone. Try it. Go to “settings” and then to the “battery” option. Scroll down to “battery usage by app” section. Check out your screen on time vs. screen off time. Tap one of the apps you frequent and look at the on-screen time as well as the background running time for that application. Shocking, is it not? For me, as a cyclist, I spent hours and hours checking my Strava and seeing what other riders where doing. For what? Giving and receiving kudos? Yes, I know it is a social thing and having fun with friends, but just like anything it can become an obsession. I believe that I am going to restrict myself of that “pleasure.” I have not decided to what extent, but I am going to do something to limit myself.

Bon Velo!

8 thoughts on “Asceticism, Cycling and the New Year

  1. Don’t go too hard on the self-discipline… you will end up shaving your head, donning the sack cloth and self-flagellating in the closet after a “slow” ride.

    1. Really interesting read, very easy to identify with. When I find myself obsessing over strava times or shaving 5 oz off of a mech hanger…..I know it’s time to switch off the garmin, pedal into the woods and ride through some mud. It reminds me that riding is fun. You can’t take anything seriously when you’re covered in dirt 😁

  2. Even total screen time per day over a week is scary. You know the game is up when even the dealers and pushers are telling you to lay off the drug for a while 😉

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