Cheerful hey? Contrary to popular belief it wasn’t Bill Shakespeare who coined the phrase above reminding us that we should make the most of our time. My in-depth research tells me that the phrase is actually a bastardisation of two different quotes from the Old Testament but I suppose whoever and wherever doesn’t really matter because regardless of its origins …. it’s a statement containing very true sentiment.
I’m sat here typing this while looking at the sun out of the window. I can see white shapes on the hillside that indicate ewes and if I look carefully, I can see the even whiter spots of their new born lambs. The bright yellow heads of the first daffodils are gently rocking in the breeze and the birds appear to have gone into overdrive in their nest building endeavours. We may not be entirely clear of the woods but the signs of spring are certainly upon us and with them, the thoughts of daring bicycle do amongst the green hills and valleys of this pleasant land. You’ve struggled on through winter, shouldering the burden of cold, wind and rain. The knowledge that, sooner or later spring will arrive, has kept you motivated and you only need remain focused a little longer and the summer sleeping bag will once again see the brilliant light of day.
Gratifying thoughts I’m sure you’ll agree but what if your wheels won’t be rolling over the dried out puddles and firm single track any time soon? What if your last ride was really to be your last, would you be content knowing that you’d drained every drop of enjoyment from your previous opportunities or would your memories be tainted with a little regret? Perhaps it’s strange or perhaps it’s just human nature and nothing unusual at all but when the future’s unclear, we often look to the past for reassurance or consolation. After all, what has been and gone is in someway always present and can’t be taken away from us.
The reason I’m sat looking out of the window is one which I’m sure will be familiar to many – injury. It’s the catalyst for writing this and the reason I’m staring at the world from behind glass rather than from some lofty mountain track or meandering valley bottom. I’m quite sure that healing vibes, grapes and sympathy aren’t required in this instance. I have absolute faith that my self detonating knee will in time return to a functional state, it might take longer than I’m hoping and is likely to involve a greater level of discomfort than I’d like but it will get better. However, if that wasn’t the case and the ‘hot knitting needle down the back of your knee’ pain was permanent, it would probably signal the end of riding and certainly dash all my hopes of winning the Tour Divide, Highland Trail and BB200 in a single year. After the bikes had been sold off and the dust had settled, I’d be left with some fantastic memories – amongst them would be a few triumphs and many failings, hot, cold, wet and dry. Moments of absolute solitude and times intensified by the company of others. There would be sunsets and sunrises, frost-nipped fingers and sunburnt foreheads but no matter how hard I’d try, I know that mixed in with them, would be a certain amount of regret. I wouldn’t rue the day I pushed my bike over a mountain in a thunder storm or the freezing nights I’d packed with an eye on weight rather than warmth. No, this regret would be for the times I didn’t do those things, the times when I turned from the opportunity to venture out and chose the warm, easy option of staying at home.
The next time fortune presents you with the chance to ‘pack up and piss off’, don’t tell yourself you’re too busy or too tired. Don’t bail out because the weather looks less than ideal or because you haven’t yet fitted your new tyres – GO, go and embrace it and above all, treat it like it’s your last ever ride because sooner or later, it will be.