Thursday, January 31, 2008

Can't Get It Out Of My Head

If you have never tried to accomplish a feat of cycling that was considered "crazy" by your non-cycling friends, you may have trouble understanding this post. It is a phenomenon that I have been aware of since the first Trans Iowa and accutely aware of ever since my aborted attempt at the Dirty Kanza 200 in 2006.

And just what is that phenomenon, you ask? Well, it doen't really have a name. Not in the clinical, official sense. It has been something that has haunted, motivated, and frustrated hundreds of cyclists that I am aware of. Just recently I have finally found the most succint, and true definition of "it" I have ever read. It comes to us from the inimitable Mike Curiak:

"Voluntarily quitting something that is so dear to you leaves a hole that is unfillable by anything other than that which you have quit. There can be no substitution--you simply have to go back and do it. "

Mike was relating one of his experiences on the Iditarod Trail, but it may as well be anybody that has had to "pull the plug" on any endurance event, ultra-endurance event, or long self supported tour. I have seen it first hand from the outside, watching Trans Iowa "dnf'ers" deal with their decisions. I have experienced it first hand, as I have mentioned, and this quote from Mr. Curiak seems to sum up my motivations for going back to Kansas again this coming May rather well. I suspect it does that for many of us.

Just why it is "dear" to us, is left out of Mike's quote and rightly so. He is talking from a deeply personal place, obviously, but I like that it leaves that open to interpretation for each of us. That said, I'm betting the interpretations of that are more similar between us than different.

I think it crosses over to other parts of life too, but something about an attempt at a challenge that seems to stretch us to our limits physically, mentally, and spiritually leaves a mark that is indelible. If that "mark", that change is cut short, left incomplete, I think it sets off an almost irrational longing for it to be completed. Not until every "i" is dotted and "t" is crossed do we let it go. Maybe you've been there and can relate to what I'm so inept at trying to explain here.

It's just hard to explain. But just like that old ELO hit, "Can't Get It Out Of My Head", it is a siren call to keep trying until the end has been reached. If you are there in the middle of it yet, I wish you well, and I hope you reach that goal soon.

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