Cycling is beautiful: there is no other sport that lets you feel pain and adrenaline, lets you see peaks and valleys, and lets you smell ocean and pines all in one blissful four-hour retreat.
For six years cycling gave me more than I could have ever imagined; vivid sensory experiences that will last a lifetime. However, while losing myself in the sport and competition, I also lost a true purpose for why I rode. Riding each day became not a privilege, but an expectation, even a burden.
So I quit racing.
Taking a step back from the bike was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I would never quit cycling, but I needed time off. Time to spend with friends and family, after spending so much time on myself.
In the last few weeks I came back to the bike, both mountain and road. Now I can ride without the personal expectation of being a racer. Now I can ride with the bright-eyed wonder I felt freshman year of high school. Now I can ride with friends and share the beauty of the silent forests, with only the rustling of pines and chirping of birds, rugged mountains, with their bitter wind and alien landscape, and green rolling hills, dotted with the occasional farm, vineyard, and pond. Now I can ride to experience the moment instead of training for the days and weeks ahead.
Now I can ride to have fun.