Once again I am climbing Olympic View. Once, maybe twice a week I make the eye watering descent down main, throw the bike through a right hand turn and head up Olympic Drive, which then pitches up and changes name to Olympic View. I haven’t seen the Olympic Mountains, at least not from this road since I moved, but you can see the waters of the Sound through the disjointed rows of houses.
There is only one other road I’ve put more miles on North of Seattle, and that’s the bike route that runs from where I live in Edmonds to where I work in Lynwood. This is the long way to work and though pedaling for two hours before I have to spend eight standing on a concrete floor at work isn’t good for my legs, it does have a way of making my work day easier.
I’ve climbed this hill in a frozen fog, a light mist, a persistent rain, and – like this morning – on cool sunny days. On days like this I typically dress in my team kit, rain jacket stuffed into the middle jersey pocket for when the rain eventually starts to fall. The black, with neon rainbow stripes long sleeve jersey is one of my favorite pieces of kit. Today I left it at home. I’m dressed in a black shorts from one high end brand and a jacket from another high end brand. Not flashy, but it signals one thing, I’m no longer attached. I realize that and then blink back some tears.
I didn’t start this team, but I did help build it. I was the one who pressed the amateur aesthetic of racing for the sake of racing while we tried to integrate the sections of pro cycling that we hold high. Teamwork, quality matching kit, good pulls, but no dope. I know the line because I wrote the copy. Not because I thought it was a good idea, but because I believed it. Now I’m wondering if I need to let this thing go.
Do I need to let go of this thing I helped build? The team, or club if you must, grew at first it was people we rode with, added because we liked being around them, not because they were fast. Then we incorporated a team that was folding and our numbers went from a manageable ten to fifteen people to over thirty. This is nobody’s fault. Things always change.
Each day I watch emails roll through the status bar on my phone. Team rides, trainer nights, race plans. All things I was part of last year, all things I had a hand in building. There are points I want to make, but don’t. While I feel ownership over this team/club I am not a part of it, at least not in an active way.
I am far away, and there are enough people on the team now that, when they do eventually meet me I will be nothing more than an interloper. I am not in control, not that I ever was. I’ll be the guy who calls fights with people over email. Which is what I was doing before I left this morning.
In the beginning there were only a handful of us. Friendships were formed during long rides in the foothills of Mount Hood, by relentlessly attacking the shit out of each other on gravel climbs, and leading each other out in races. It was a group of guys who I wanted – guys who I would have ridden with if we weren’t on a team together.
I can’t ride with my freinds, at least not as frequently as I did, from three hours away. I don’t know half the people on the team anymore. It is no longer mine, at least not in the sense that I owned it the first time around.
Olympic View is now a distant memory as I crest the final climb of Mukilteo Blvd. I’ve recently let go of another habit, riding with headphones. That change coupled with the a new level of familiarity with my new roads gives my thoughts room to wonder. I can think clearly now.
Often times I wear a hat from another club. One of whose members I respect, but don’t really know, let alone ridden with. It served as a template for what I wanted to create, plus I like the colors, and what it stands for, or doesn’t stand for, I’m not sure which. Occasionally the pictures I take end up on their site. Seeing them there makes me feel a part and apart of them at the same time. Just like seeing the emails from my team in Portland. I feel a part and apart. Sometimes I marvel at the human ability to feel two conflicting things at once.
Having all these thoughts takes an instant, but they turn over for miles before damn near done with my ride.
On a long straight I pull my phone from my right pocket to check the time, but I can’t resist checking my messages as well. Seven emails, including another smug response. Now its clear.
I pull over to the side of the path and bring the bike to a stop. I send a text message to a friend, giving him the long sleeve jersey I ordered, and ask him to post the rest of my unreceived kit for sale to the members of the team.
This hurts more than feels rational, but a weight is lifted too. Sometimes you have to sever the ties of your old home so be part of your new home. Its time to move on. The phone goes back into my pocket and soft pedal the rest of the way to work. I needed this ride today, even if I didn’t know it on the way out the door.