Take a break!

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.

END


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8 thoughts on “Take a break!”

  1. Hard times reveals human ingenuity, good times reveals character and values? That’s a take I hadn’t considered and I have to agree with you, Seth! Great read.

    1. It’s why in an age of unparalleled wealth and plenty, the entire planet is falling apart.

  2. “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” I have never considered that viewpoint, but you’re right, that’s when we know the character of a person.

  3. “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we
    are. They are different.”
    – F. Scott Fitzgerald

    1. I don’t know…I’m not as smart as you guys. But after I found myself inadvertently having to sustain several decades of a wild chase for money I never wanted I ended up in a crappy trailer park. Ten years later I wish I had moved here thirty years ago. Seriously…if everybody lived in a trailer park the planet would be a lot better off. Trailers don’t weigh much and when a big wind blows them away ya just get another trailer.

      I hope this helps. I never know. While I am very envious of your crazy mad mileage, Skinny, I am somehow worried about the possible side effects of that wig. But then again, it worked out ok for Joe Dirt.

      OK.

      Disclaimer: It turns out my old yellow dog was sleeping on the tube that leads to my keyboard breathalyzer so this may have got through. If so I apologize.

      1. Anytime the dude in the trailer leads off with “I’m not as smart as you guys,” get ready for a brain whuppin.

    2. I think all people are basically the same. When they no longer have to struggle, their worse traits emerge.

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