It has been a big week for the Haas family: son racing the Giro, daughter giving birth to a son, father setting off to China for business. During that flight, some thoughts came to mind.
Damian Haas is Nathan’s father. He recently sent an email stating:
“I flew to China this week with China Eastern airlines and it was like something out of the 1980s – no in-flight entertainment so I had 11 hours to ponder things.
“I love that I have been given this new experience in my life because of my son, Nathan.”
The pride of parenthood is hard to escape. And the joy of cycling conjures a wealth of emotions – many of which are universal…
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May Your Ride Be a Long One
– By Damian Haas
(Inspired by the C.P. Cavafy poem ‘Ithaka’)
May your ride be a long one over winding and open roads with clear skies and captivating views and vistas. May you set out in earnest from your early morning rendezvous to greet the chilly sunrise in the comfort of your well chosen and likely quite expensive kit.
May you ride past beautiful fields, beaches, lakes and valleys and roll through towns and villages where people will smile and wave as if to say “fare thee well Road Warrior, ride on – ride on, for us”. May both the wind and traffic be forgiving and the bitumen smooth and welcoming so that you might even hear the gentle meeting of the chain with cassette.
And when you meet your inevitable climb don’t be afraid. It’s what you have been riding for. To find that place all riders seek by themselves to strip away all ‘the other’ and to learn to simply suffer. May there be switch-backs and pinches and top-loaded percents, it’s these you will remember and then, in time, the descents.
And may your descents be joyful and fast and free. Make danger your friend and just let it be. Take each bend and corner down low on the drops with the carbon wheels heating and the body sweat cooling but it can’t last forever and like all things – it stops. And if your technology fails as it so easily can from punctures, derailleurs and satellites and chains; don’t let it turn you from the reason you’re there – these things, as in life, are just a part of the fare.
And if all this you are finding too easy a pace then do something crazy and join a Criterium race. There is a kind of knowing by all who start at the line that when you clip-in you’re not just riding to win ’cos there are rules to obey and risks to share and the general acceptance that it’s just plain hard to win a bike race.
Every ride must end and there are tales to be told so a café must be found, either new or old, where each rider can ponder how their ride stacked up and take proteins and caffeine and rightfully so. What better way to learn of the way things are done and you’ve earned it now, so have some fun.
And when you finally stand off the bike and sync your device don’t fret the statistics or the segments you’ve lost. Remember it’s not the score on Strava that tells what you’ve achieved; it’s the hours on the road, the hills, the descents, the rollovers, the fear, the joy, your time on the front, the nod from your mate, the story over coffee and the relief that you made it home safe – this time.
So may your ride be a long one over winding and open roads with clear skies and stunning new vistas. And when you’re done and rested and going deep in your psyche remember it’s not just about you and give due thanks to the bike.
– Damian Haas
10 May 2017