Today is my dad’s birthday. He would have been 62.
As I sat and I thought about him this morning with my coffee in a Ducati mug he used to keep on his desk I thought about all of things I wanted to share with him. I often think about him after I complete races or an important training day and what he would say and what advice he would give me. He went to all of my swim meets when I was a teenager and after college I know he was happy that I was getting myself back in shape. Of course, he always told me he was proud of me so I know that would be something he’d say no matter where I wound up at the end of a race.
Lately I’ve been doing my long rides on some of the same country roads that he would have ridden his motorcycle. He loved motorcycles the same way I love running, and now triathlon. His passion for them and the sport of motorcycle racing is evident in my parent’s home. I know I get that passion for my chosen hobby from him.
|Him racing the year I was born.
It’s funny because I don’t really consider myself an adrenaline junkie. OK so, I went sky diving once, wouldn’t mind bungee jumping, loved white water rafting, zip lining, and roller coasters so maybe there is a little bit of a daredevil in there. But, I never really understood why my dad loved the motorcycle so much. It seemed so loud and scary fast to me. And definitely too much like a bicycle.
As a kid I had my minor bike incident and eventually stopped riding all together as I got older. From there I grew a deep-seated fear of cycling. Starting on it again was a challenge but I’ve come a long, long way.
On my first few hill rides I was surprised at how much I loved the downhill. Considering my apprehension of all things two wheeled and my general lack of strength, man did I love letting go and coasting downward. I still do. Part of the beauty of riding hills, in addition to getting stronger as a cyclist, is just letting go on the descent. It’s an amazing feeling.
And now I understand. I understand part of the reason my dad loved his motorcycles. The speed and the freedom you can feel on two wheels is as close as you can get to flying. In fact, that’s what a ton of motorcyclists relate it to. It’s a bit different for us cyclists because we have to work to get up those hills but I imagine cruising down them is a very similar sensation.
I know my dad would be impressed with how far I’ve come as an athlete and would still worry and tell me to be careful when I head out for those long group rides along those lonely country roads he himself traveled on two wheels. And I will, but I can’t really promise to take it easy on the downhills. And he would understand that.
Happy birthday Dad. I get it now.