Sometimes you meet a bicyclist who strikes you as tough. Not fake tough, or bravado tough, rather, quiet tough.
Often times the rider is smiling and kind and funny, but behind all that there is something really solid. I always know that there is a story behind these people and it’s always fun to learn it, even though you typically have to know them for a few years. People like that don’t wear their story on their sleeve.
In this case, the story came out over coffee. She mentioned growing up on a farm and chores.
Chores. The word kind of struck me.
That’s an old-fashioned word, isn’t it? Kids don’t have chores anymore. I didn’t have chores and I’m an old guy. My kids wouldn’t have known a chore from an oar. But here was this young woman in her early 30’s talking about “chores.”
Growing up on a farm in southeastern Ontario, where it gets down to -40 and the daily winter average is below zero (that’s -17 for those who use a real measuring system), she had to do things like milk the cows, string fence, and once a year help castrate the bulls and slaughter the chickens.
“There’s nothing as messy as slaughtering chickens,” she said. “It’s so … graphic. So much noise and blood and chaos. The castrating is pretty graphic too, but that’s what you do on a farm.” She said it easy, matter-of-fact, hard.
I don’t believe that Millenials are a lazy and worthless generation, but I do think that people turn out differently when, from an early age, they take responsibility for things. According to her, “My parents didn’t care what I did, as long as my chores got done. And the other part of that rule was ‘the animals come first.’ So if I stayed out late I knew I still had to be up at five to milk the cows. The cows didn’t care if you had a cold or a sniffle or a hangover. They had to be milked.”
She grew up to be a world class skier and a ski model.
She is also real tough on the bike.
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