There’s a unique bit of culture native to everyone who rides regularly. It could be pre-ride routine, favorite foods or clothing – whatever may appeal or speak to us. These routines are much more than an orderly way of getting things done. Most people who know me would not equate the word orderly with what they observe in my habits…or lack of habits. Ritual may be the better word.
Ritual is the remembering and reenacting of sacred moments. It adds meaning and depth to everyday life: so often [if you’ll excuse the cliche] in the simple things. A peanut butter and raspberry sandwich takes on a simple, but sacred, meaning because it’s tied to long days of struggle and success in the saddle. it feeds the body and the soul: a helping of fun and inspiration that helps me bring my best to the ride.
The movie Memphis Belle is a story of a WW II bomber crew flying its 25th mission. Crews surviving 25 missions are sent home for the rest of the war – but very few got that far. The intensity of their struggle created some curious and meaningful rituals. In the case of one of the waist gunners, it was wearing his lucky rubber band around his wrist. In the case of another, it was a religious medal worn around his neck. Sound silly? Ask these guys, and they’ll tell you they’re true believers.
The intensity of road cycling creates it’s own rituals and sacred objects. I always put on my cycling shoes starting with left. Tool kit always goes in the right jersey pocket, phone, cash and road rash kit in the center. That’s just how I do it. Very hard days will always find me in my Hammer Nutrition jersey and my V-socks. Why? Because that’s what I wore the last time I climbed 7000 feet in a single day. Due to the widely known supernatural properties of bananas, I save mine [always carried in the left jersey pocket] until my desperate time of need. I can’t tell you why it works – just that I shift into the big ring soon after hucking the spent peel into the ditch.
Sound silly? I’m a true believer.
Regardless of how we garnish our peanut butter sandwiches, its all another thread of life’s rich tapestry woven into our sport.
PS – Klondike Bars. Nothing in the world like a Klondike Bar at the end of a hard ride.