Our thoughts and conversations were always unedited. It was the first time I found I could trust someone as I slowly peeled back the layers of having lived a mostly single adult life. He spoke to me uncontrollably, from the beginning it was although we had limited time and had to play catch up on our previous lives. Day and night was filled with the so much talk and as riding as we could fit in. Countless hours spent on the bike together. He spoke as I painfully struggled on the next mountain to keep up often with laboured breath. It was a good distraction, although sometimes I wanted peace to be with my own thoughts, now I realise how valuable those moments of conversation were.
Childhood memories of growing up in a hostile country landscape flooded in. Long frustrated explanations of why he’d made the wrong choices with women, the abuse he’d tolerated and the many sleepless nights of worry as his previous wife had tried to conceive. It was an outpouring of a life that was lived to the max, full of risk, passion and yearning for being his best self and satisfying others.
Endurance sports such as cycling seem to open a different area of your mind. Spending hours with yourself deep in your own thoughts pushing through the barriers of pain, that constant struggle to be better, faster, refine your ability. On the occasions that you train with like minded athletes you are offered a precious insight into their world. One which is beyond the daily and dreary chit chat we so often come across in life. It’s these conversations of the painful experiences and personal joys you only being to process when you have time. And you always have plenty of time on the bike. As hours pass, you find yourself sharing intimate details of your life with unsuspecting strangers, so cathartic that when you finish you wonder why you didn’t do that sooner. It’s the beauty of cycling, the pain we endure together that binds us as a community, the support we receive that I haven’t found elsewhere. And when I needed it most it was the cycling community that came to my aid. An unbelievable outpouring of love which continues to this day.
It’s taken nearly two years for me to return to the bike. The thought of riding without him by my side and the companionship of his voice, his encouragement and constant motivation was unimaginable. I missed the stories and the plans we continuously made for the future. There was no longer anyone to share my dreams with, our ideas for the future abruptly halted. With each new ride were tears. Tears for what I’d lost, tears for my son who would grow up without his father present. I struggled to breathe. With each pedal stroke and eyes on the road ahead I was taken back. The roads we had ridden together countless times were memories flooding back, constant reminders of my true love abruptly snatched away. I tried to focus on being grateful for the time that we had shared and the beautiful memories we had created, the amazing goals we’d achieved and the pristine landscapes we’d experienced but it was tough. I have some relief in the knowledge that our son similarly obsessed with all things bike related carries on his father’s legacy. I look forward to the day soon I can share some of those precious stories with him on the bike.