The Cyclist Who Slips

Looking for good tires for the rainy days the bike shop mechanic laughs at me in a friendly manner.

“Es sind nicht die Reifen, es ist der Radfahrer, der im Regen ausrutscht.” (“It’s not the tires but the cyclist who slips in the rain”).

I think about this for a moment and as if a new concept I register its truth and wonder how after all these years of cycling I still blame outside things for personal failures?

And my next question to the mechanic who is also a seasoned cyclist who rides all year round no matter what the weather.

“What about snow and ice?” I’m fearing an answer to the effect that he doesn’t actually ride and that I’m about to be a rare stupidity this winter.

“Bei Schnee und Eis fährst du langsam, fährst breite Reifen und immer Tubeless.“ (“In the snow and ice, you ride slow, you use wide tires and always tubeless”).

Part of me apprehensive part of me feeling that I’ve connected with a hardcore cycling segment that I had doubts existed.

“It's getting chilly at night. Do you have a good jacket for me?"

“Hast du eine Regenjacke? Trage das einfach. Es wird dich vorerst warm genug halten.” (“Do you have a rain jacket? Just wear that. It will keep you warm enough for now”).

Returning home I look at my bundled up rain jacket and think about the cold and wet mountain forests, the silent jungle of Europe. About my descent the other night where I could hardly tell where the road was and where the forest. The concern of wild boars and deer in the darkness. The slowing down with front brake only at the curves and the uncertainty of how much of descent is left. The only known that I’m heading in the right direction.

A car overtakes me fast but with consideration and disappears into the abyss of this beautiful forest to reappear once again a few minutes later in a valley way below. For a moment I’m held back by how high this mountain is and how did I get up here but the next moment as the rain covers my face with endless blows of wind I become aware of how happy I am I this moment. Of how all these years on the bike have brought me to this point where when I doubt myself in all other areas of my life. My failed marriages. My broken relationships with my kids. My complicated situations with my work, that no matter what, on my bike I can conquer all and nobody might ever know, nobody might ever care but in this moment all that matters is that I know that I cannot be stopped, I cannot be defeated and I cannot be deprived of my happiness.

Back down in the valley, racing through a sleepy village - like a ghost - through the soaked streets, I know I’m completely insane. I know I’ve lost my mind but my souls in unshackled.

The man grumpily walking his dog stares at me, and so does his pissing on the tree dog. Yes I’m here by choice. I like to suffer. I like to push the limits. I like to feel alive. I like to fear. I like to hurt. I like to know that at the end of the day I’m unconquerable. My legacy of not giving a fuck is a personal legacy that only needs my stamp of approval.

Reaching the city limits, spinning quickly across the train tracks my rear wheel slips sideways and I recover, fear for a split second, then a smile. You won’t get me so easily. Not now. Not anymore.

Marching, forwards, in an unpredictable world, I always know where to find my soul.

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