Given everything that had happened it was easy for me to grow bitter at the hand I had been dealt, to see my downfall as the result of a year of ill-fated circumstance entirely outside my control. I was merely the victim of a series of unfortunate events, and all that was left now was the imagined future that could have been.
But once I finally had space and time to reflect deeply I could see that this wasn’t true. In taking a breath and letting go of everything that had happened I could also let go of the illusion that I was the victim of a malign fate.
The combination of bad luck, bad situations, and bad people were the accelerants, but the fire was lit by me.
It was in the acceptance of this that I realised I had the chance to build something better, instead of just picking up the pieces that had broken around me. The shattered illusion of an old life isn’t worth anything, but a new beginning is worth everything.
The truth is that I could have done things differently then, and more importantly I can do things differently now.
I loved being a professional cyclist, but I was only living half a life. From day one I failed to find the right balance; and from day one I was also warned by those around me.
Pace yourself, don’t forget to enjoy the journey, you can’t keep this up, give yourself a break. But I’m ok. I’m strong. I can handle this. For a while it worked, and worked well. But they were right: the intensity enabled it to burn bright and then it burnt out.
I was sacrificing long term sustainability for what I believed was the quickest way to achieve ‘success’. I was giving myself a glimpse of the dream we’re all working so hard to make a reality, but at the same time neglecting the things that stop it from self-destructing.
Training hard became over-training; being professional became being obsessive; being disciplined became self-denial; being honest became painting the picture I wanted others to see.
This past year had the potential to be nothing but lost moments, but in reality it’s been brilliant and beautiful in its own way. In the opportunity it presented to become the person I wish I’d been all along. In the time it gave to find new passions while falling back in love with old ones.
Reflecting on the moments when I could have made a different decision, done things differently, listened and learned. That’s all that counts as I become a rider again.
The flaws I cultivated from the beginning were in truth also my biggest assets, if only I could have grasped their potential for good; if I’d listened to the people telling me how to use them.
Train hard but train smart. Be disciplined but be flexible. Be driven but make room to enjoy the process. Let it bend before it breaks.
Luckily for me the clock hasn’t run down yet, and I believe the comeback is always stronger than the setback. In a strange way I feel like I lost time, but now I’ve been given the gift of more.
I could settle for being an example to others, a cautionary tale, but that would be wasting the opportunity to be an example to myself.
I can’t go back and stop that car from hitting me, I can’t stop the deterioration of my mental health, but I can change my response to it.
Instead of seeing my life now as simply making the best of a bad situation, I can see it as the beginning of something great. It won’t be the same life as I had before, I won’t allow it to be, but just maybe it will be something even better.
My bike is calling and I must go. Coming soon: Molly rebooted.