I can remember when I’d sit and cry because I wasn’t an athlete, because I wasn’t out on a field running bases, or in a pool swimming laps, or skating around chasing a puck across ice. I can remember when I used to be so angry at my diabetes because I couldn’t participate in gym class or go out and participate in whatever sport-ish activities were going on around the block because of the fear of my blood sugars going low. I was so mad because I wasn’t going to grow up to be an athlete, there would be no athletic scholarships to college, sports would not be an extra-curricular activity on my college applications, my picture wouldn’t be in the year book among teammates. Back then it was quite disturbing, now it’s only slightly disturbing (although if I could go back and change things I would fight for my right to participate in the various sports, but that’s not the point of this story).
So, last spring (almost a year ago now) I started riding, and for the first ride I trained vigorously (and that had to be done because I hadn’t really regularly ridden a bike in years, it was always a ride here or a ride there, here a ride, there a ride, everywhere a ride ride, little ms courtney had a bike, e.i.e.i.o…sorry, totally broke out in song there) so I trained vigorously, drove to CA with my bike on the roof of my car (and Robbie’s bike but he’s not crucial to this story) and I rode and the bike went back on the roof of my car (a week later) but I did that twice over, and it was like I was going to away games, but they were close to home right, I was just traveling to another city if I were still in high school (but since I’m not in high school I get to go to other states, like in college I guess).
But now, this time, I was playing with the big boys, right, I’m like a professional football player traveling to different states and cities (yes, I’m aware I already do that, but just follow along, will yah?) And people don’t know me but they talk to me because I got something worth talking about, I’m traveling with gear and I have a duffel over my shoulder and my backpack on my back. Now, I’m an athlete.
It’s amazing what a big black case can do, people were asking me questions, what’s in the case, how much does it weigh, why did you travel with your bike, do you do this often…that was exciting.
And there were even people that I got onto planes with that were asking where I was going and what I was doing and whatnot, and I got to tell them about my rides, and there was this one guy from Ft Worth to Orlando that talked to me about cycling the whole ride and how he wants to ride in a century some hotter than hell ride. I just thought that it was really cool because it was like I was sitting there talking with him about our past “games” the upcoming “games” what “team” we’d like to go play for next, that kind of stuff. Like, real athlete stuff.
So, I cycle and I enjoy it. I am an athlete. (traveling is just an added bonus)
For 15 years there wasn’t much sports in my life, and last year when I started cycling, I didn’t think of myself as an athlete, I was just kindof a kid with a whim. I was thinking big, of how I’d like to cycle in every state, and as I traveled to three different states last year to ride (CA, CO, TX), I still didn’t think of myself as an athlete, but this year, I decided I was an athlete.
It all began with the bike case going on the plane, and instead of a suitcase, a duffel bag. This is really something that goes back to high school, where all the athletes would go away from home to play games or compete in competitions and all their gear would be in a special bag, and then all their clothes would be in a duffel, that’s just the way it was. There were no rolling suitcases or anything, just duffels on one shoulder and their gear on their other shoulder. And occasionally, their backpacks with all their school work that had to be done before they returned on their backpack. That was the image of the athletes that I remember in high school (the image outside of game time).