The day after I told my teammates that I was planning to build up a geared mountain bike so that I could race short-track in July, the universe had other ideas and began communicating them to me VERY loudly:
a. I went to the doctor, where preliminary tests indicate that arthritis is indeed settling into my body. In fact, it's likely been settling in for some time and I was doing my best to ignore it -- but even while I was hitting the gym my knees were yelling loud and clear to stop. Now, a year later, they hurt going up and down the stairs at work (especially in the mornings); my hands are stiff and creaky every morning and my elbows occasionally groan too. Blood was drawn in order to determine what kind of arthritis I have but in any case, it's what it is and there is no going back to a pre-arthritic state, either physically or mentally.
b. I continue to enjoy commuting daily, and still like to challenge myself on some of the tougher hills; but really that is about it. Whenever I try to press myself to go faster, I find that it isn't really any fun. I will get up the hill eventually, so why worry about when? This attitude has been creeping in for some time but this past week I recognized it and stopped trying to deny it.
c. When I dream of bicycle technology, I dream of cargo bikes with electric-assist. The Xtracycle Sidecar has me especially excited. When I look at the Bridgestone I don't feel nearly the same excitement.
d. On Monday of this week, a young man crashed at short-track. Badly. In fact, catastrophically. He is paralyzed from the chest down and doctors are saying it's permanent. This gave me sme serious pause and forced me to look hard at the realities of my life.
I'm uninsured and likely to remain so indefinitely.
I am truly blessed to be able to make the career transition I'm making while we live so simply.
But neither of us has anything resembling job security.
If I were to crash catastrophically and found myself unable to recover, it would be devastating for both me and Sweetie.
With the physical and financial considerations before me, racing feels like the wrong thing to do. All my attempts at masking this through trying to conjure up enough enthusiasm to get back into have been met by a serious message from the Universe: I'm doing relatively well right now, and I really shouldn't risk it by racing at this point in time. In fact, I need to admit to myself that my racing days are likely over for good.
When I finally owned up to that, I expected to feel sadness. Instead, I felt relief.
I've contacted my teammates to let them know I'm done. I will still go and cheer them on but have no illusions about my own ability to keep doing this. It was fun, I had an amazing time. I'm happy and ready to let it go in favor of the slower, gentler rides I continue to savor.