God loves cyclocross 

Every couple months I get to talk to my good friend AD, we go way back to a rainy day on a basketball court, sometimes I make the call and other times he does, the instigator never really has any bearings on the tone, level or strength of our connection. We are brother be it at home or abroad, we pick up right where we left up the last time we spoke. I dare say that is the sign of good friendship one formed through years bonding and numerous days lounging in campus dormitories gnawing on 2 day old pizza. I have had other friends, more sophisticated, more ambitious, ones who make me feel like if I keeping nurturing the relationship I will be on the front page of the NY Times before I know it. The latter group however is short on long-suffering (pun intended), a couple weeks of being incommunicado and you are dropped from the speed dial setting. 

  
What does this all have to do with cyclocross or God you say? Well hear, hear: The trustee cyclocross bike is in my opinion the most loyal of the never ending genres under which bikes are classified these days, they go as fast as your legs will propel them, keep up with any roadbike, all the while looking as good as the parts you hang on them.  Cross bikes are willing to be the winter bike and venture into any terrain your heart desires. The cyclocross mirrors how we feel inside; the dirtbag who would rather have panniers, fat tires, a flask and a destination with no plans on how to get there or the wannabe racer with 60mm deep wheels, you can dress a cross bike to be the embodiment of your current or desired mental state. 

  
 I just reactivated my Giant TCX. I put on some 28cc tires, new bottle cages and bar tape. The first ride was akin to a conversation with your high school sweetheart at the class reunion, awkward and forced, trying to find a conversational angle that skirts the elephant in the room. The sensation of speed was subpar, I searched for that feeling of riding a wild horse, the lurking aggression apparent in a race bike, the twitchiness of a steep head angle apt to respond to input from your pinky. I put in more effort try to coax that same feeling out of the aluminum frame to no avail, stood up and mashed the pedal, hoping to rouse the slumbering Cheeta within… No dice. Then something happened… I gave up. 

   

  
 I relaxed into a slow cadence, sat up and looked around, I soaked in every bump usually absorbed by the compliance of carbon strands, felt the tingling in my hands from my fingers up to my neck, the 28cc tires took the edge off but the frame stayed live.  On the decents, the relaxed geometry seemed to curve around the contours of the road and I thought … Hey this reminds me of God! We constantly chase speed, upgrading to the latest and greatest all the while relegating our first love to hang in the basement, with only the occasional call up when the fast bike is in the shop or the weather is bad. The cross bike never complains, always reliable, always willing. Romans 8:35 says what shall separate us from the love of God, not trouble or hardship or persecution or famine… 

As always it is hard for me to juxtapose the premise of a need for speed and one to look up and smell the roses on the bike just as in life. God can help me see through the fog and one of the ways he does it is through a 5 year old aluminum  cyclocross bike. 

Thanks for stopping by…

The Saddle an Altar

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Barely brazing 85 percent of my maximum heart rate, I slug up Irons mountain on a crisp spring afternoon, blue bird day with the sun taking intermittent breaks behind sparse puffy clouds feels nice but a harbinger of what summer has in stock. Suddenly it strikes my how many parallels can be drawn between cycling and one’s spiritual walk, I ponder this while looking out into the cadenza of yellows, reds and varying shades of blue stratification that would require a true tetrachromic  to appreciate I juxtapose my spiritual growth with my improvement in the saddle over the course of my riding “career”. Just 2 year ago the idea of riding up this cat3 climb on a bicycle would have been totally absurd to me, the first time I made it to the top the only vista I enjoyed was watching the snot and sweat cocktail run from my face to the tarmac as I desperately toiled to reach some negative elevation figures, today however I can pedal up the same climb, hold a conversation (albeit limited) and still notice the curve of the road as it sneaks its way down the mountain, I am soothed by the vengance with which the leaves on the tree are reborn, I notice how this calls up in me an awe for a Creator. Something inside, something fundamental feels summoned, I feel a sense of privileged to somehow be willing and able to take the time to commune with the creator. A month after I gave my life to Christ I very nearly threw the towel in, I remember at a church service saying to God “this is too hard, I have tried all I can but its just too hard” I decided I was returning to my old life the minute I left that service that night, needless to say God spoke to me in a real way that night making me believe John 6:37. Just like riding if we stay with it we develop spiritual muscle/spiritual endurance with time.

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Before I ever fell into cycling, I asked God to help me as I start trying to live for him to get connected to the right people I knew some old friendships had to go and I needed support beyond family. He answered me by sending me a friend in the form of a Giant Rincon 26″, one not with triflow instead of blood coursing through its vein. A friend that if I look hard enough and listen well enough becomes an altar a vessel through which I could be with God.