Do not go gentle into that good night
Old age should burn and rave at close of day
Rage rage against the dying of the light…..
I’m no expert, but I’m quite certain that when Dylan Thomas penned his famous lines, mountain biking wasn’t really a ‘thing’ and obviously this pandemic was several decades off yet. And I know it has to do with not giving into death without a fight – but still – come along with me.
Let’s be brutally honest, and no one needs to raise their hand, but how close to home is this – how many of us are fighting to not give in to that good night? Who has a marriage that breaks their heart? Is still blindsided by a loss they never saw coming? Has prayers that are unanswered for months or years or decades? Lost a job this past year? Working and schooling from home exposed cracks in their marriage or parenting or mental health that were otherwise fairly well smoothed over when things were still ‘normal’? Or things were NEVER normal, and now everything has slidden so far sideways you’re not sure what to do?
Mental health has become pretty ‘buzzy’ lately and for good reason. The vast majority of us are struggling with SOME form of a yawning pit in front of us whether it’s the result of trauma or it’s “just” the “new normal” that seems utterly endless and wearisome. We. Are all. Broken in varying degrees.
I honestly don’t think I would have held it together at all in the past year without my bike. It’s almost embarrassing to admit how connected I became to my little pink whip (her name is Claire, BTW). SHE helped me rage against the dying of the light over and over and over again, early in the morning as the sun rose, breaking spider webs at Upper Mac with my face, or rattling over roots at CSGA, or flying through Mosquito listening to my 8-year-old process his own ‘stuff.’ Poor Claire visited the shop after many rides that were filled with tears, with cathartic conversations that were had with thin air, with aggression that could only be absorbed by dirt and trees.
If you are struggling in any way, do not give in to it. Do not go gentle into that night. Obviously help comes in varying degrees, but in this space we are acknowledging that our bikes have become more than the N+1 obsession we laugh about. I can’t be the only person who could say that my bike has been my glue, my therapy, my neurotransmitters, my sanity…and the world is a little more appropriately on its axis when I’m done with a ride. Nothing in the world was fixed, but my mind is a little better and the metaphorical close of day seems a little farther away.
I feel like the local mountain biking community became a little more cohesive this past year, and names and profile pictures are becoming actual people, and those actual people may become one of the best support networks we can get. Get back on your bike. Dig into our amazing trails. Connect with your fellow riders. Breathe. Sweat. Burn and rave when it feels like the close of day. Your bike has your back and so do we.