Saturday, June 11, 2011

Able to Endure 

This weekend the streets of Toronto have been closed or diverted for a number of community or charitable events. One of which is the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a 2 day, 200 KM ride to raise money for cancer research. I ride every day and it is a part of my life. I once calculated I ride about 250 days a year and probably ride over 3000 KM. I try at least once a week to do a longer ride, which is entirely different type of ride than my commuting one, which is short and fraught with close calls. The longer rides on the weekend though are entirely about freedom. Some middle-aged guys might buy a big motorcycle but others, like me, spend a few bucks on sweet bicycle. Whether I'm topping out at 50 KM/hr or cruising at 20 KM/hr, you'll know me by my huge, maniacal smile. Plenty of people effortlessly pass me, but after 3 or 4 hours I know I've burned up over 1200 calories, I've sweated out all the "toxins" and bad stuff, and I've injected enough oxygen into my brain to light up every synapse and nerve ending. I don't ride an engine, I am the engine. That feeling is pretty goddamned empowering.

Then you see a story like this one. Damian Lopez Alfonso lost both arms and was badly burned over his face and body when as a boy he was electrocuted trying to retrieve a kite from fallen power lines. His story of pushing himself further and achieving freedom through cycling reminds us not only of the power of sport but as Plato said, "...that the soul of man is immortal, able to endure every sort of good and every sort of evil...". Seeing his joy in cycling makes me feel like a complete fool for ever feeling sorry for myself. Ever. See his story in this short video from the New York Times.

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