I received an e-mail from Dave Noda, asking me and other VQers to share our VQ stories. My immediate reaction: why should I? I am out of action, I have a broken hip! (My son gave me the t-shirt I am wearing as a write this. Emblazed on the front is: “I broke my hip saving my bike from being damaged by black ice on the road.”)
I am bitter and twisted because on the last cold day of the year, anticipating a great summer of riding, I crashed and have been out for the entire season. After some reflection, I decided to respond to Dave’s e-mail because there actually is a story here. I have been with VQ nearly three years (I joined September 2011?).
This 67-year-old body, even as it is temporarily broken, is younger and stronger and fitter than ever. I just love what my body can do. It doesn’t come free. Apart from the money, which is not trivial, the real cost is the time commitment that we all have to make when riding with VQ. My wife still struggles. Can anyone relate to “you’re always falling asleep at night over dinner” or “riding comes before me” (which, of course, is not true, but impossible to prove)? I could go on and on with this, but any VQer will know what I am talking about.
So, what do I get out of VQ? Getting up daily at 4:30 a.m. is not a benefit. Being so exhausted at night that I am not very good company is no benefit. Spending so much on bicycles and equipment and training is no benefit. But the rides on Tuesday and Thursday mornings--they are just something else! Being there when Robbie gets everyone excited to be racing around the little lake on the savannah while the sun comes up and it’s snowing and breathtakingly beautiful…competing in the bicycle racing with a smile with Ed and Dave and Bob and Roger and Scott and all those great athletes who offer such encouragement…how can life get better?
This only leads to my riding getting better so we can do the sub-5 century in record pace (for me) and feel such a sense of accomplishment. (I joined VQ because after so many years of riding I was getting slower and slower. I have turned the years around. I am now younger and my riding is getting faster.) And the swimming on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays–how can my body just keep churning out those laps with Coach Marcia so encouragingly lashing us to do better, get faster, swim longer? It’s all those swimmers and triathletes like Scott and Walt and Lexie and Alice and Jeff and Lorraine always being there to help and offer encouragement.
This is a community of people who are very special. They come from all walks of life, with different backgrounds and agendas, all doing it for their own reasons. And I feel a part of this special community…and it means something. So when I fall off my bike, the encouragement and support that flows from so many people is in itself an experience to reflect on and remember. Life is not perfect at VQ. But I think you can get out of it whatever you put in--with interest. It is up to you.