Monday, January 30, 2012

"Fast Is Better"

Hunter S. Thompson is a punk. He's dead now, but if he was alive, I would tell him to his face. If you don't know who he is/was, don't worry about it. He was a writer and a good one. Most of what he wrote or said was crude and foul and his political ideology and mine don't/didn't exactly line up. Ever. He was acerbic and abrasive. Sarcastic and abusive. Just a real big jerk. If I had ever had the opportunity to meet him in person, he is/was the kind of fellow that I would have a strong urge to punch in the face. Multiple times. But I saw a quote from him today and it boggled my mind. I thought for sure he was talking about cycling: "faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death." Amazing.

That's exactly how I feel and think when going downhill on my bikes. Can you ever go fast enough down a hill? I can't. I wondered if he was a cyclist as well as a writer so I checked as best I could and couldn't find any evidence that he might of been. So even though I think he's a punk, I spent some time seeing if I could find anything else he might of said that I thought related well to cycling. Most of his quotes are not fit to print here, either due to language used or subject matter, but I did find quite a few, and many more than I expected, that I thought could be rubbed over and rang out on the sport of cycling and I'm going to share them with you here:

"A man has to BE something; he has to matter." How true. I know I am a son, brother, father and a husband and all are very important and noteworthy endeavors. Hopefully I'm good at them all and I and it matters too. And that's fine but I have to have something else. I have a job and I think I'm good at it and it matters too. And while being a father and a husband really do help define who I am, I think of them and the other stuff in my life as a painting. I am a cyclist. And being a cyclist defines who I am TO ME. My cycling is like an etching. Etching is the process of using strong acid to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio in the metal. That is cycling - going into the surface of me - into my metal so that I am and am able to BE something that matters to me. Intaglio.

“Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.” How true. To do it right, you've got to know how. And a large part of my enjoyment of cycling is in the learning about it. Cycling's history. The bikes. Myself. Reminds me of Uncle Jim and my older boys one year when we were out hunting for a Christmas tree at the Caprock in New Mexico. Uncle Jim said "You see these? Those are pine nuts. You eat 'em." And so my boys who were 6 and 8 years old at the time picked some up and ate them, because they wanted to be a cool outdoorsman like Uncle Jim was. Trouble is those were deer pellets not pine nuts but they didn't know any better. They didn't know how but they learned quick. Learn how and do it right. It's important.

“On some days you get what you want, and on others, you get what you need.” How true. Cycling has a way of humbling you. Breaking you down and putting you under it's thumb. You can find out who you really are pretty quick when you climb a steep hill or try to hang onto the wheel of a much faster rider. Want. Need. Cycling has a uncanny way of knowing when you need either and can give it to you in pretty much overwhelming doses. Sometimes cycling will give you both.

“THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” How true. Where is that "edge?" The edge of the envelope. The edge of your ability. The edge of the road. The edge of your tolerance for pain and suffering. The edge of promise. Cycling will dangle that "edge" out there like a tasty tofu vegan veggie rice wrap (or a donut) on a string always seemingly within your grasp but never quite within reach. Right when you think you have gotten to the edge of whatever it is you're trying to find on your bike you will realize that you're not quite there yet.

The Great Eddy Merckx
"I understand that fear is my friend, but not always. Never turn your back on fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed." How true. I think this is something Hunter S. Thompson's dad told him. On the bike when you move to that point of thinking you know it, that you've got it, that's usually when you run into problems. You have to respect cycling and respect your bike and the road. If you don't it will kick you in the teeth. Hard. Just look for the scars.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” How true. Are you sure Hunter S. Thompson was not a cyclist? This sounds like something Eddy Merckx might have said. Read that again. Sounds like cycling to me.

“Some people will tell you that slow is good – but I’m here to tell you that fast is better. I’ve always believed this, in spite of the trouble it’s caused me. Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube." How true. The holy grail of cycling - to be fast. To be faster. To be the fastest. To dish it out. To drop your friends. Fast is better. No doubt. When you ride, you want everyone else to feel like they're being squeezed out of a tube. Well said Hunter S. Thompson. Fast is better.

1 comment:

  1. He was an avid motorcyclist, you can Google it.