I am reading a book titled Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder by Dave Barter, a biker in England. I am enjoying it very much and will do a review when I am done, but this passage I felt deserved special mention. He talks about bikers quest for “The Knowledge”, which is, and I am quoting him here:
The Knowledge has nothing to do with achievement, conquest or valor.
It’s not about rider skill, ability or speed and it’s got nothing to do with distance or difficulty of the terrain. “The Knowledge” is the feeling of being in an uncomfortable situation, yet enjoying it. It’s about taking pleasure from the participation in a sport that by design induces discomfort, yet learning to love it. It’s the ability to lie there dirty, cold, wet and hurting and still feel privileged to be in that position. the ability to feel a sense of sorrow for those in their comfortable heated and air-conditioned environments and the fact that many of them will never have “The Knowledge”.
I have many friends who have NEVER understood why I do what I do. When I was trying to climb mountains, I would to reps of stairs carrying a 40 lb pack. I would hike to the top of Mt Si, in Washington, every weekend, rain shine or snow. I ran a half marathon, so there were training runs regularly of 10 miles and more.
Now I ride. Most have no idea why I’d punish myself to bike to the top of a mountain pass, or pedal from seattle to Portland when something with an internal combustion engine would get me to both places SO much easier,. Why I sign up for harder and harder rides every year, which means I have to do rides throughout the long, cold, wet winters.
It’s because no matter how cold or bad the weather is, I am enjoying myself. No matter how hot it gets in the summer, I am free to ride like the wind. In my career of trying to avoid being a couch potato, I have done things, been to places, and seen things others would never imagine.
I’ve seen the shadow of a mountain on the ground beneath me, been higher than an eagle soaring in the sky, seen avalanches on Mt Rainier and giant rock slides off the lava dome on St Helens. I’ve pulled over on a 6 inch shoulder of a road to watch whales play, I’ve had a mountain goat walk through my campsite and banged pots and pans to drive away a bear. I’ve jumped out of a perfectly good plane and bungy jumped twice. I have pedaled to almost exhaustion in 95 deg heat, fallen into a crevasse in Alaska, and rode 23 miles downhill without pedaling or touching the brakes once.
I know I have given my poor mother more than one gray hair, and some worried nights! But, no matter how hard, how scary, how cold or hot, exhausted or scared I have been, I thoroughly enjoy it! Not just the actual major event, but the training leading up to it. My goal has been never to get fat and flabby and I am scared to death of being old and decrepit! I will tell you though, if it either ever happens, I will have a ton of stories to share and memories to keep me smiling forever!
Thank you Dave for putting into words what I have NOT been able to explain!