Starting Over in 2017

This is my first post since the middle of 2016. 2016 was hectic, and somewhere in middle of it I lost my writing mojo. As I write this, it’s January first, the sun is shining through the windows, and I’m feeling a little more positive. I want to start over, and this is a good way to do it.

I’m not entirely certain why I haven’t kept up.  I think perhaps I was spending too much time writing to a formula that I’d established.  Much as I love cycling, it seemed to be nearly all of what I have been writing about for the last two years.  The cycling had been according to formula, too. Not that I don’t like to write or cycle, but I have been a little burned out on both for the last 6 months.  It’s tough to explain, but 2016 was a test of my motivation. I’ve been thinking about how to regain it.

Not that I did’t do enjoyable things – I rode several more century rides since my last update, and had a good time at them; but by December the will to get out the door was waning. This tends to happen in the winter, and by March the mixture of Cabin Fever and fresh resolve to get riding again always takes over.  Motivation is easy in March.  2016 was unusual in a number of ways. However, I have to start 2017 with an acknowledgement of a few things that drained the joy from me in many ways. As the year went on, it all became a drag.

Last February, my younger brother unexpectedly died. It was a shock. Looking back, it was much more of a shock than I could have anticipated. I don’t think a day has gone by when I haven’t thought of him. Doug was someone I called when I needed a sanity check, someone who kept me in contact with family, someone who helped keep me grounded in a lot of ways. We grew up together, we had similar outlooks, we were close.  We were different in many ways, but as time goes on I’m starting to find different ways that Doug’s absence has affected me. Even after all this time, it’s tough to adjust to the new “normal” without him to talk to. I have a lot of adjustments to make, even so long after his passing. I’ve discovered gaps in me that he helped bridge. This is one way to start bridging them myself. One of the things I’d resolved to do in 2016 was to get Doug on a bike. I was concerned over some health issues he’d had up to then, and I know that a bike was the perfect way to get him moving. That push was to start in the spring of 2016 – about 2 months too late as it happened. I think that regret cast a very long shadow over one of the things that gave me strength – my cycling. Back in September I found that Doug’s eldest son had taken an interest in bike racing.  I bought him a racing bike. His first race will be in a couple of months.  I hope that this will be a sign of renewal for me and for my cycling as well.

It’s also important to note that I lost a cycling friend recently – Russ Altemose. He lost his fight with cancer in late 2016.  I have ridden thousands of miles with Russ, and I knew him at his best, because those were the times he enjoyed. They were better times for me because he shared them with me. I’ll miss him as well. His passing was a reminder of loss.  It brought me back to Doug.

It’s important to remember that life isn’t about loss.  Loss is part of life, but so is recovery. I have not allowed myself to be truly free to experience all that life has in store for me, and so in this time of looking both forward and back, I choose to look forward and take a different path. I think that this will be a year to worry less about events and more about the connections I make.  I will continue to focus on my riding, because it is a thing that makes me feel truly free, but I won’t regiment myself in my riding. I think it must be about connections to people and the freedom I choose to ride for. I think I’ll look forward to certain cycling events, but perhaps they will be fewer, and the open road will figure more in my descriptions than just the events I’ve chosen.

The course of our lives is seldom straight.  Most of us find that we wander a little, and when we do, we need to find a way to motivate ourselves. We need food for the soul as well as the body. We need peace and contemplation, we need a certain amount of hard work, and we need a little challenge in our lives, too. We need resistance in our lives that we must push through. I think that this blog had started as a way to exercise my desire to write, but it became a kind of singular journal.  My cycling became regimented, too. I will continue to write about cycling, because it’s such a big part of me now, but I feel that it’s time to change the way in which I do it. I want to  let this forum and my riding off the leash of a static formula and let it wander a little more. I’ll let my mind take me in different directions, and I’ll talk about them here. Now, on New Year’s Day, it seems like the right time to let go of some of the pain and hardship of 2016 and let 2017 take me in different directions. I hope that it leads to more fun and more insights. I hope that it sets me free in a number of ways.  I’ll talk of my discoveries here. Happy New Year.  Let 2017 be a year of discovery for all.

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