Last week I rode 450 miles over five days across the Anza Borrego Desert with some downright awesome folks. It speaks volumes that after spending literally hundreds of miles on the bike together, we not only still like one another, but also already (!) miss the rides and the company.
While the miles now in my legs have made me stronger, it was the connection with other campers, the delight in sharing our appreciation for the odd but profound satisfaction in choosing to pedal hundreds of miles in the desert together, that seems to have strengthened me most.
All credit goes to Janel Holcomb, longtime friend and former teammate, who organized the Borrego Springs Cycling Camp presented by Mavic, pulling together an eclectic bunch of cyclists for a week of long rides, abundant laughs and (duh) pie. It takes something special to bring together so many riders from such diverse backgrounds, but the sense of camaraderie and belonging among everyone at camp is evidence for Janel’s ability to inspire and bring out the best in people.
As a racer, it’s easy to develop a form of tunnel vision, zeroing in on training logs, intervals, power numbers, future goals, and other quantitative benchmarks. And those things are important for progressing as an athlete. But even more important is heart.
Heart is the sum of all the qualitatives and intangibles that delight us about bicycles and pedaling and wind in our faces and becoming through cycling. It’s all the things you can’t verbalize but understand completely when you catch the light in eyes of a fellow rider and smile together in silent appreciation of what doesn’t need to be said.
At camp, we shared our stories of how we found bicycles and how they changed us. So many stories, so many walks of life, such different journeys — the common thread not simply bicycles, but the universal ineffable joy they inspire.
Falling in love with bicycles is awesome. The only thing better is getting to share that ineffability with others. Thank you to everyone at camp for the powerful reminder that the best part of bicycles can’t be recorded, measured, charted, Strava’d, Tweeted, or Instagrammed. And especially, for making it all the more awesome through shared adventures.