Cycling is like life. Cycling with no goal is meaningless. What meaning is there cycling in circles? Or living aimlessly? Meaning comes from direction and destination. Join me in my life's journey on a mountain bike :)

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Sunday, June 03, 2012

From exhaustion to epiphany

2-3 Jun, Kluang, Johore, Malaysia, 317 km

Day 1: Kluang, 169 km. I am up before dawn after about four hours of sleep. The roadies are rolling. I am the only one on fat tyres and a tube bag. I am trying out my new traveling rig. Which breaks the rule: never try anything new on a long ride. But I tell myself, this is a short ride. I use 2x600 ml bottles instead of the usual 700, and thin gloves. This is a recovery ride for me, real cycletherapy.

31 May marked the last day of an era. On top of that, 1 Jun is the third - and final - part of a year-long, sorry saga (well, it'd have more parts if the preceding year was counted too). With the culmination of these, something died inside me - or was something born?

Rough journey ahead. So fun!
So, I am glad to be on this ride, despite my heavy heart and heavy tyres. Can healing be hurried? If outer self (skin) hurts, use aloe vera. Cycling is aloe vera for inner self (spirit) hurts. My bicycle buddies, cycling chums are well-dressed as usual, in shirts even. They don't know what's eating me up inside, but cycling with them is therapy. V hasn't seen me for a year, he says I've lost weight. Heavy burdens tend to do that. Anyway, both of us have LX components. "Great minds think alike," he says, and adds, "Fools seldom differ."

As the kilometres pass beneath my wheels, clicks rise up. I dismount and tighten some bolts. The clicks continue. It can't be my middle chain ring, not when the Lord of the Rings has fixed it. Perhaps it's from the hole in my soul? It turns out, the clicking isn't metallic, but organic. It's my knee. I know, because I can feel it when I touch my right kneecap.

To add to the disorientation, I see fragments of familiar scenes, interspersed with the unfamiliar. Johore used to be my playground. Now, it looks so different. According to V's GPS, there's no road where we're cycling. Sure enough, the tarred road disappears. I stir from my stupor. On the wide, long swathe of dirt road, I jolt about at 28 km/h, overtaking a couple of cars. The drivers wish to protect their suspension, my bicycle has none to protect.
Darkness falls. So pretty ...

At Kluang, there's no room at the inn. We visit half a dozen before we find a place for the eight of us and our magnificent machines.

Now, I'm exhausted in body and soul. I want to sleep during dinner, but sleep eludes me. The thinking and feeling I'm cycling away from return with a vengeance. What's the point of going away if you feel the same? Low frequency vibrations permeate the room. I plug my ears up, but ear plugs don't quieten my heart nor silence the reverberations from karaoke. Now I know why there's room in this inn ...

Nightstop: Milano Hotel

Day 2: Singapore, 148 km. I hardly slept. I'm barely awake. I'm slow today. My knee clicks, my heart is heavy. Or is it the headwind? Rather than get emotional, I get technical. I cycle offroad, parallel to the road. I do compensatory gear shifts. I pedal circles and note there's less strain on my knees.

Road ahead. What lies beyond?
Life is about choices, not just accepting what it hands to you. Someone once told me, the glass is not half full. It is not half empty. It is both. Looking at the half full side, I recall how I end up cycling with these people: years ago, a "chance" meeting at a charity event. And it was "chance" that triggered the chain of events that led me into this funk.

It's hard to forget. As I removed my slippers last night, the plastic bag reminded me of that which was once pleasant, now painful. Then, I pass "Klinik Australia", which reminds me why I fled to Australia.

Cycling, especially over hundreds of km, does something. Somewhere over the rolling hills, over 200 km into the ride, over a garbage-juice soaked road strewn with trash, I realise that amidst loss, there is a glimmer of a new future. The way it was, was the way it would've stayed, just more of the same. Now, maybe, there may be a different, better future. Not immediately, of course, but someday. I can imagine what that future is, I'll need to work at it. As John Macarthur said, you can't control the results, but you can control the effort. There's nothing to say that things can't get better. So, that's how to deal with "what now" problems, where something has happened and there's nothing to be done about the past, just the future. Which leaves me to deal with the "now" problem, which is the present, that which is still happening. 

Then I realise what a nice day today is, cool and cloudy, perfect for cycling.


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