tonight was the Bad Ass Coffee Cycling Team season kick-off barbecue.
we stood around, outside, in 50+ degree weather, chatting and watching burgers and dogs cook on the grill, then munched on chips and veggies and brownies and other assorted picnic food.
I knew very few people ~ and even if I might have met some before I didn't recognize them in their Real People Clothes.
and john's (paraphrased) observation was this: you just can't tell a cyclist from their Real People Clothes; cyclists come in all shapes and sizes.
and how great is that?
I have met the most incredible people through my cycling life. and it's not that incredible people don't exist in every walk of life; it's just that my cycling experiences have introduced me to fabulous people with whom I have something significant in common.
we all love to suffer.
because this was john's other (again, paraphrased) observation tonight: the joy of cycling is in the suffering.
in other words, it's in overcoming the challenge that we feel the thrill.
it's through the suffering that we learn to relish the release.
it's possible there are cyclists out there who never stretch, who never suffer or push past their known limits, who never grimace in pain. I believe it's possible to enjoy easy, relaxed, just-for-fun cycling.
but most of the people I know, the people I admire and bond with, are familiar with punishment and reward. with pushing further than they thought they could. and with swooping with joy and release afterward.
it's internal, this push and stretch and thrill. only I can know how hard I hurt; only I can feel my reward when it's over. and when it's all over, I am powerfully pleased to be me.
we don't talk about this, my cycling buddies and I. we'll talk about how it hurt, how glad we were to be done with the climb, how great it felt to go fast on the descent. but we don't talk much about the internal glow, the strength and power we feel when we surpass our own known limits. but somehow, we must connect at this level because there is a powerful draw between us.
I respect and admire all of these people, for I know exactly what it takes to push yourself, to claw through the muck, to suffer and want beyond all reason to stop, but to keep going anyway. I like this bond.
and I will forever be grateful that I was admitted to this exclusive club, whose only admittance fee is a willingness to push your limits further than you ever thought they could stretch.