Christmas brings humble pie and an alternative perspective of “epic” rides

Last modified: May 1, 2021

While visiting my family for Christmas, I discovered just how closely my sister followed my progress in the Transcontinental Race this summer. She watched my dot move across the map of Europe more closely than anyone else, despite it being my third time in the race and her not normally being particularly interested in sports (except when her husband is racing motorbikes around a track and she’s hoping that nothing bad happens to him). Like most people, she and her family find it hard to comprehend how it’s possible to cycle such a distance in such a short time, so it’s nice to show them what’s possible by stepping out of my comfort zone occasionally.

In contrast, I had a glimpse of how much hard work, stamina, and dedication it takes for her and her husband to raise their two children, my 13-year-old niece and 9-year-old nephew. They do that 52 weeks per year instead of the two weeks that it takes me to race across Europe. I decided that they warrant a lot more respect for doing that quite ordinary task than I deserve for my extraordinary cycling efforts. I know which one I would find easier!

This realization reminded me of a blog post by VecchioJo on about the overuse of the word “epic” and how many people try to present their feats of sporting endurance as involving unimaginable hardships. In fact, we put ourselves through this completely voluntarily whereas there are so many people in the world who have to endure far worse, for far longer, and have no option to simply stop and go back to an easy life. Those are the people who deserve serious respect and admiration, but they don’t have the time or means to post stories about it on the internet.

Doing a mammoth ride such as the Transcontinental Race is certainly an achievement that is worth being proud of, and is a great escape from a mundane lifestyle. However, treating it as much more than that and not recognizing the people who are dealing with far more serious and important challenges and problems (such as bringing up children or fleeing from a dangerous or desolate country) would be a grave mistake. My Christmas thoughts are therefore focused on recognizing and being deeply impressed by those people.

The people who know me best (my wife and my colleagues at the bike shop) have the best perspective on what I do. They realize that I simply enjoy being on my bike and pedaling for many hours per day and going through different environments and cultures, and that doing so in a competitive atmosphere increases the feeling of excitement and achievement. There isn’t much more to it than that.

For an amusing and ironic look at what hardships need to be endured for a ride to be called “epic” then watch this GCN video:

4 thoughts on “Christmas brings humble pie and an alternative perspective of “epic” rides”

  1. I love the sentiment Chris – it does put things into perspective!! There are many people out there doing ‘epic’ things because they must, not because they have the freedom, health and relative wealth to choose how and when to have an ‘adventure’.

    Also, as a skier and mountaineer the term ‘extreme’ is also becoming a little tiresome 🙂

  2. What are you ingtaciind, man? I recognize everyones got their own opinion, but really? Listen, your web log is cool. I like the work you put into it, specially with the vids and the pics. But, come on. Theres gotta be a better way to say this, a way that doesnt make it seem like most people here is stupid!

  3. So it’s Chris! As an “extreme sportsman” I have always had to smile about myself. When I travel by bike, I becomme always conscious of how much others have to for raising children or to live.
    We just do sport. Sometime risking health to get somewhere without any “real” reason. Just because we have the time, money and wealth.

    I like your page! 🙂
    All the best.

  4. Dear Chris! Respect for the true words and humility. As a father and husband (also bikeoholics) I totaly agree. My wife take the hardest part when I’m out for cycling.

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