I recently spent several days up in northern Minnesota visiting with my parents, helping them around the homestead, and getting in some quality rides and enjoying some beautiful forest roads.
One of my original objectives for this trip was to do an all-nighter. A "solo" dusk to dawn bike ride on the forest roads, logging roads, and trails in the area north of my hometown of Chisholm. It is, I think, a cool idea and would be fun.
Now given my current state of affairs with some health issues this really was not a very good idea. You see, there are times when I am not the sharpest cheese on the cracker, but this is something that I still want to do before the summer is up. Also, before the nights get too much longer. You see, there is some actual thought that goes into some of these ideas I get.
So when I arrived home Tuesday afternoon my mother noticed the bike on the car and the first thing out of her mouth was...Oh Billy! I thought I told you to leave your bike at home. We have work for you to do." God I love my mom! I assured her that the work they needed done would get done and I would still have time to do the rides that I wanted to get in.
After a wonderful dinner of chicken, risotto, and garden salad I informed them of my plans for the night. Well, needless to say neither one of them were happy to hear that I was planning on riding alone through the woods all night long. As I was out in the garage getting gear ready my dad came out and of course started asking me questions. Where will you go? Does anyone know where you are going besides us? Will you have a cell phone with you? Are you sure this is a good idea? Maybe you should wait and find someone crazy enough to go with you? You haven't been feeling well, what if something happens? I had good answers to some questions, but I could see that others were somewhat discomforting and causing concern? I could see the worry in my father's eyes and hear the concern in his voice.
He turned and went quietly into the house leaving me alone in the garage to question what the hell it was I was doing and to think about a comment a friend of mine made awhile bike. We talking about cycling, training, racing, riding, money spent on cycling related stuff when she looked at me and said..."Cycling sounds like a very selfish hobby and you are being selfish with your time." Pretty blunt and straight forward words that have made me think more than once.
Now I was starting to wonder whether or not she had been right. Was it selfish of me to want to go out riding at night knowing that it was causing my elderly parents a good deal of worry and stress. My mother is 87 and my father 86. They survived WWII my father as a soldier in Patton's Third Army my mother has a young French woman living under German occupation and constant threat. They worked hard to raise a family and make sure we all taken care of and led good lives. As a young man I put them both through a lot of hell and worry with my antics and behavior. I provided them with plenty to worry about and lose sleep over, but in the end I turned out OK. Now here I am, 52 years old and I'm still causing them concern. All of a sudden I felt that it wasn't fair to them. They deserved better. They deserved to not have to be put into a situation where they would be up all night worrying. Of course much of this is of their own choosing, but somehow I felt a responsibility.
So after some further thought I went in the house and told them that I was still intending on riding, but decided that I would be home sometime between midnight and 1 a.m. and I promised that I would call as soon as I got back to where my car was parked. I would have to make sure that my starting point had a cell phone signal. Anyway, the ride turned out to be spectacular and after several hours and 30+ miles I was satisfied and my folks were somewhat relieved to have me home.
I'll have to plan it for a time when I am alone, feeling better, and probably staying up on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Sometimes you just have to do things without everyone in your life needing to know. Is that selfish or is it just having a strong passion for something you love to do? Maybe it is a bit of both.