Everyone needs a break. Or so we are told.
Especially, you need to take a break from riding because you are tired. And everyone knows that riding when tired leads to overtraining which leads to death, which is followed by even worse things.
But what if you don’t really need to take a break? What if you need to ride more? Ride faster? Push harder?
6,000 years ago people went hard until the end. Every day they struggled. Rest came at night in the form of sleep; there were no rest days. Days were when you fought to stay alive, and they began before dawn.
In my sojourns I have plenty of time to observe people and wonder how many of them would survive a single day of hard effort? And in cycling, especially in the rarefied world of the Stravver and #socmed, I wonder how many of these heroes would be able to make it through even a single week of work plus 300 miles of commuting plus “training.”
The answer is always the same: Pretty much all of them.
Every human is capable of extraordinary effort. It’s false to say that you find out what people are made of when the chips are down. Every human can survive, and most can even thrive, when conditions are relentless and brutal, when they are fighting for food, for companionship, for shelter. Competition is the ultimate whetstone.
You see it on the streets. Homeless people are nothing more than ordinary people who, through chance or choice, find themselves in a daily war for survival. They are tough beyond any words, savvy to the point of being mindreaders, innovative as an inventor, impeccable judges of people and environment. They are these things not because they are special but because they are human.
Racked by drugs and alcohol and mental illness, perhaps, but nonetheless they are hardy beyond belief, so hardy as to be pointlessly ordinary.
The jelly rolls behind their Rage Rovers are no different. Starve them for a couple weeks, put them beneath a freeway underpass with ten dollars and a blanket, and they would become hard as diamonds. You would, too.
You don’t find out what people are made of when they’re down. When they’re down, they’re brutally hard and resilient or they are dead.
You find out what people are made of when they’re up. When they have the time, the money, the confidence, and the community to do whatever they want. That’s when character shines through and people differentiate themselves.
That’s when privilege and sloth and self-satisfaction and greed all come to the fore, and when you get a view into a person’s true nature.
Ride too much yesterday? Too many dragons to slay or swamps to drain?
Keep at it. You’ll be taking a long enough break before you know it.
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