Looking for Answers

After reading Jan’s blog article about his recent trip back home to Belgium to visit his mom (and ride…and meet Philippe Gilbert), I got to thinking that I really shouldn’t put off seeing my own mère for another year, so, just like Jan, I looked for cycling opportunities to coincide with my trip back home in August. Thing is, there aren’t many sportives or famous cyclists in Gaspé, QC., so I decided to do a leg of my life-time plan of ‘cycling across Canada’ (I’ve only done one small portion of 600 km between Montreal and Toronto), which has been downgraded from ‘do it in one go’ to ‘do the good bits while I’m healthy and hope I’m too old by the time the Prairies come around’.

After posting a  plea on FB for some transport back from my hometown to Montreal, after the ride, my cousin asked a question on behalf of her daughter:

Why would you want to ride from Montreal to Gaspé?


I thought briefly about this, thinking an easy answer would pop up: it didn’t. ‘How’ would have been simple, even though I haven’t figured the logistics out yet. ‘Why’, however, threw me for a loop. My mind quickly concluded that to enter into such an answer with sincerity would be too long for Facebook and probably make my cousin think I’m stranger than she already does.

Of course answers came to me, like ‘for the challenge’ and ‘because it’s there’, but I didn’t want to ‘sound bite’ her, so I simply made a self-deprecating joke and left it at that.

But after waking up this morning with the thought still in my noggin, I knew I had to write something about it. I need to go for a ride this morning, so I can’t even begin to try and explain why I do the things I do – the story is too long and the origins most likely lost in the fog of my memory anyway. Of course I have some ideas about the answer and I am sure there were some key events/moments in my life that have nudged me onto the path that brought me here, looking at Google Maps and puncture-proof tires. But really, I have to get out for that ride…

So I’ll pose it to you, dear adventurous reader: why the hell do YOU do all those things your friends and family think are nuts?

18 thoughts on “Looking for Answers

  1. Most of what we do is centered around setting a goal and working to achieve it. Why? For the sense of accomplishment that comes when completing it.

    • I guess I was getting at the reason why one person would set a goal like doing the CCC, for example, and another would have one like ‘take vacation in August this year’. But now that I think it through, you answer applies, no matter what.

  2. Must be something touring cyclists have in common, since I saw the map before reading your post and thought … that looks like fun. So, for fun … and a more personal and intimate way to travel the world than in a car …. and adventure … and to experience time passing in a completely different way … and ditto Richvelo, accomplishing a challenge … and … Oh dear, something I’ve clearly thought about too much!

    I’d love to hear what tires you end up with.

  3. I’ve been asked similar questions many times, but my favorite answer was when a volunteer at an event looked at me as I was about to begin a 12-mile climb. He asked why I punished myself like this? My answer was ‘because I can.’ — as good an answer as any.

    I hope you’ll undertake this challenge for another reason, because it’ll make for a great story. Selfishly, I’d love to read about it.

    • I’m with Aaron, because I can, but it’s a little more in my case. I’ve fielded the question a lot too. I do it because I feel more free from the hub-bub of everyday life than in an put into words. That, and I simply like to. Riding distances that make most people think are nuts makes me happy. Puts a smile on the puss, what else matters after that?

    • Thanks, Aaron. There’ll be blog articles, don’t worry! To make it more challenging I’m giving myself 5 days to do the 1000 km or so it’ll end up being. Will remember to take along the chamois cream for this one…

  4. One of the few psychobabble phrases that does have some meaning for me is ‘pushing the envelope’.

    I imagine that most, if not all of us, live inside an envelope partly made for us by others and partly made for us by ourselves. For some the envelope is comfortable and comforting. Some like me, may have no great wish to upset their lives by pushing anything in case the tear in the fabric reveals things about themselves that they can’t cope with or, even worse, that they are so feeble that they haven’t the strength to push in the first place. By doing nothing we live solely in our imagination. Others may not even realise that they are in an envelope and can’t understand what those loonies over there are doing cycling great distances, climbing mountains, starting businesses and so on.

    You may belong to the group who can see themselves clearly and can see the envelope and want to know what is out there, whatever it is. And what is in you, whatever that is.

    You may be trying to prove to somebody, possibly yourself, who said that you couldn’t or shouldn’t do something, that you can do it.

    Maybe it is the lure of maps. I can understand that as a cartophiliac.

    Of course, it may just be that you like cycling and Canada is as good a place as anywhere else to do it.

    Bon voyage.

    • Very good psychobabble, TP. I’ll copy and paste this to my cousin’s FB page. It’ll stop her asking again, if nothing else 😉

      Seriously though, I like the expression a lot, especially with your added explanations. For myself, I don’t bother asking anymore because the reasons don’t seem very important anymore and, like you said, not easy to find anyway.

      As for Canada being a good place to cycle, I’ll let you know in August, I guess.

  5. I´m with Suze. Even on Map it looks like fun.
    For hills I´m with the climbers: Because its there.

    But why cycling at all? beeing outside with or without friends. travelling fast than all the runners and hikers. Gooing out tomorrow at rain and storm will be fun, because a lot of peaople jst will shake heads and it feels good after.

  6. Because I want to. Nothing terribly deep or complex… In any case, I don’t think anyone thinks I’m nuts :-]

  7. Very good question and many good answers proffered in the comments. Sometimes I worry that I will loose my interest or “drive to train”. Without a competitive goal (aside from cross season in fall), that is possible. I have had rides during which I was asking myself why? But I have gotten to the point that if that happens, fine. I ride for fun and enjoyment, and if that experience no longer gets me to train as much, then I will just train less and “only ride.”

  8. Sorry I won’t see you in Gaspe this year brother, after you do the “why?” trip from Montreal, since I will be in the process of doing the “why?” part of building a house in The Pas, Manitoba. Defies logic sometimes dosen’t it?

    • Must be in the genes, bro! Too bad we won’t see each this summer, but I understand – you’ll be trying to crack through the permafrost still in August 😉

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