Up to this point commitment phobes have gotten a bad rap. But! I’m here to challenge that. Although, for the sake of clarity I should state that the commitment I’m referring to is to do with everything but relationships.
At this point in my life I’ve tried my hand at a few different things, I gave triathlon a go, even did the Alpe d’Huez one, which involves going up a big ol’ lump of land, although my wetsuit was last seen hanging in the window of my local RSPCA charity shop. I dabbled in running and completed the London marathon in a fairly unrespectable time of 6hours something (in my defence I was ill and actually told not to run by the doctor, the risk was passing out, and with all the St Johns Ambulances I figured there was nowhere better to do it). Endurance cycling has featured heavily with me rolling over the finish line of TCR#3 in 18 days having had a similar amount of time before the start to prepare, last minute entry. I own climbing gear although it hasn’t been on for about a year. And the latest one was cycle touring, with everything going and us preparing for a minimum of two years of travel.
Being back in the country some 6 weeks after leaving was not really on the agenda. This trend for fickle extends beyond sports, I’ve been vegetarian, vegan and even raw vegan, tried various diets. I’ve been a body hair sporting, cuddle puddling hippy in Hawaii and an all night studying student, with the occasional all-nighter that wasn’t study related. Every job sector has been tested, retail, telesales, office and service. Now at 27 looking back at this list you may think to yourself, this girl is a flake, a dropout who’s not succeeded at anything. This would be easy to do, and I’d be lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind, for the umpteenth time this year, as the 2nd January it’s a good start.
However, I’d like to propose an alternative interpretation. And this depends on how we measure success. There are people I look at, who I consider to be successful, famous perhaps if whispered in the right circles. To mention the names of Anna McNuff, Emily Chappell, Juliana Buhring or Dervla Murphy would bring forth great praise and wonder for many. These are people who push their own boundaries, they’ve found their passions and found a way to make them work for them and for that I applaud them. But what about those of us who are perhaps unsure about our passions, or struggle to find the time and means to keep all the other spinning plates of life going.
Balance. Everything hangs on balance, I could go all hippy here and talk about the yin and yang, or architectural and say light and dark or space and void. But really what I’m talking about is lifestyle balance. Most people strive for a healthy life-work balance. But what if you are throwing a big race or an adventure into that mix? To ‘succeed’ often means swinging the scales heavily in one direction, if you want to win that race you need to train and that means you’re probably gonna be tired and busy most of the time. Planning a big trip, socialising costs and so that’s out. Focussing on career or studies, sports and hobbies are gonna suffer.
What I propose therefore is that, like me, you become a commitment-phobe. Summer 2015, limping back to Gerardsbergen after pulling out of TCR#3 with injuries Phil and I talked with much excitement about how great it would be to cycle down the canal cycle path on our touring bikes in a year’s time. A year later, rolling along that same path on our touring bikes we discussed TCR with some envy and talked about our own endurance racing desires. Coming home from cycle touring was hard, our next step moving forward was ever changing, from heading back out once we got more funds, to immigrating, to switching the bikes for backpacks. We came back to a pretty bare house and have had to start again with lots of stuff, furniture to make our little house a home, new bikes, trainers and gym memberships. It was a hard lesson and revealed a lot about our personalities. For me it’s cemented my character, I am fickle and will likely always wonder if the grass is greener elsewhere.
So this means adopting a different tact. We’ll keep the UK, or more specifically the annex at the back of my parents house, as adventure HQ for now. And we’ll try not to worry about spending money on kit, I’m viewing it as being prepared for anything that I might wish to try. I’ve got a pretty decent smattering of hiking gear, a very nice new rucksack, climbing gear, touring bikes and panniers and I’m building up a good set of cycle kit to go with the new bike coming in January. Previously I might have endeavoured to get rid of whatever wasn’t being used, or look at it shame faced thinking about how little action it’d seen. Now my view is beginning to change, this kit and the skills that I’ve acquired with it are bows in my adventure quiver and I can draw on any one of them, be it for an overnight outing or continent crossing crusade.
For now we are honing in on endurance cycling and working hard to develop our skills there, adding some more bows in the form of bikes, gear and training. Deciding that touring was too slow and there’s a need for speed that requires satiating, we’re going full hog for TCR#5. With entry places confirmed just earlier today excitement and motivation is at fever pitch, especially when bundled with the beginning of a new year complete with resolutions and the feeling of a fresh start. This does involve training hard and we’ve every intention of giving it our all and being in the best possible shape. Does this mean I’m going to marry endurance cycling? Heck no. I’ll give the relationship my best and see where it goes. It’s a pretty open relationship, I’m also seeing friends and family, and work although I’m not really that into him, I might even get back together with climbing for a bit, or start up something new, kayaking perhaps.
The saying goes jack of all trades, master of none. And it may be meant as an offence but I’d like to recommend that people at least try a few trades, change isn’t as scary as it can seem. The main obstacle to overcome is how you and others view yourself. I was enjoying being a cycle tourer and feeling comfortable in that role. At other times I would have happily labelled myself as a triathlete or aspiring architect. However, the more I try my hand at different things the more I realise I don’t fit to any single genre. Any other members of the endurance cyclist-adventurer-cycle tourer-career woman-traveller tribe out there? But really this is a boon, I get to dip in and out of various different groups, glean all their knowledge and use it for whatever I’m planning next, mwahaha! Evil plans aside, it is great to get to know such a range of people and be constantly inspired by the way they’re challenging themselves and society.
So there you go, I guess in reality it’s not so different from relationships, perhaps it’ll be a summer fling, a polyamorous love fest, your childhood passion rekindled or your one true love. All you can do is try it and see where it goes.