December 23, 2016.
The storm has arrived. It’s only our second storm of the winter, and it’s called Storm Barbara. I’ve waited for it. Normally, I’ve attempted to get the latest Burkes Biking article online by Wednesday each week. This week is different, though. I’m extra busy, but now that the wind and rain are all around, just two days before Christmas, I’ve taken time out from the busyness to sit and write. Time out from wrapping gifts, endless cycling, tidying my room and preparing sherry trifle while trying out the Baileys cream. There are thirty-seven other jobs that need doing, but right now I want to write during the storm.
It’s my day off. Can you keep it down.
Thank you, Ireland.
— Wonder Woman (Sarah) (@wonderwoman6000) December 23, 2016
Mostly, I just want to write about bike stuff and other STUFF. Nothing unusual there, but as Christmas draws near, there are things that need to be said.
The Shortest Day
The mid-winter solstice has passed and we are once more drawing nearer to the sun. It is my 58th time to make the trip. This is a time for setting targets looking to brighter days ahead. There will be many targets on my horizon for 2017. Given continued good health, I am certain to achieve some and hopeful of others. There will be a wise (!?) mix of the challenging and the purely enjoyable.
Sometimes Less Is More
I’m planning to do more, and I’m going to set my sights high. I will be attempting a 600km ride during the coming year. The build-up to this has already started and will continue as soon as Barbara has moved away. Yet, in my build-up to the monstrous mileage in my head, there will be time for short easy cycling with my wife and friends. Here in Dungarvan we are most fortunate to have the Greenway on our doorstep, so I’ll be a regular to Kilmac for coffee. I’ll be more than content to cycle slowly at perhaps 20kph. It’s there I relax and recharge.
I’ll be a regular with Group 4 on Sundays. I’ll dip my toe into other Sunday groups from time to time just for the added spice, and I’ll be on a regular monthly monster with other regular monthly monsters. This mix of long and short, fast and slow, challenging and easy will feature here through the coming year.
Banter And Craic
Cycling is a very time-intensive pastime. It could be difficult to make small talk for three hours in a group. Fortunately, the answer is simple: cycle with cyclists who enjoy the craic*. As adults, there’s a strong tendency to take ourselves too seriously. The old Irish saying “Giorraíonn beirt bóthar” (The journey is shorter with two together) is even more apt when two or twenty-two can laugh at themselves.
Space For Reflection
When I am on my bike I am close to God. Nowhere do I feel the connection to be as meaningful. I am alive. When I cycle alone I can reflect with gratitude for everything in my life. When with others, I can connect with those who share my passion. At times we can talk a lot of horse manure, but there’s a deep level where we are united in friendship. In fact, we are community in minding one another.
It’s time to have a few days off the bike: time for family and loved ones, time to gaze into an open fire, time to be thankful. I recently saw a cute fridge magnet and written on it was:
We haven’t got it all together, but together we have it all.
I wish you a Happy Christmas. Don’t forget to tidy your room. The great biker in the sky is circling!
Those are my thoughts this Christmas week, yet there are wiser heads than mine. Here are the words of three others:
- Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain. (Vivian Greene)
- Bicycling isn’t just a matter of balance… It’s a matter of faith. You can keep upright only by moving forward. You have to have your eyes on the goal, not the ground. I’m going to call that the Bicyclist’s Philosophy of Life. (Susan Vreelan)
- k) Erma Bombec
We’re almost there, fellow bikers. Just two more snippets:
- Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store. (Dr. Seuss)
- Finally for this week, a retweet from Ard Scoil na nDéise in Dungarvan, in relation to last week’s article about junior track cycling in Holland:
— Ard Scoil na nDeise (@ard_scoil) December 17, 2016
When you do return to the saddle, stay safe out there,
This week I’m separating the usual club spin reports to another (yes, separate) article. You can find it here. Do follow through for the craic*!
* “craic” is the Irish word for fun.