Sunday Morning

Some people go to church to pray. I prefer to ride my bike. On the open road with the wind roaring in my ears and the clear blue sky all around me, I figure if God isn’t here he (or she) is really missing out. An early morning ride in the spring will indeed numb your extremities, but it will also clear your head and feed your soul. So assuming you have one or the other or perhaps both if you’re lucky, cycling can be a kick-ass alternative to the more sedentary option of sitting inside on a pew. In fact there are a number of similarities I have discovered between Sunday mass and cycling. I was raised Catholic, and the Catholic mass is very active, a full hour of sitting, standing and kneeling reps. Church pews are universally very hard and uncomfortable, and can cause discomfort not unlike hours on a bike saddle designed by a masochistic European. Ah!!! Another similarity. Europeans love cycling. Almost as much as they love church. (But perhaps not as much as they love soccer…)

But the most striking similarities have more to do with the human aspects of both activities. An early morning group ride binds together for a short period of time a group of people with different lives, but the same passion. It creates a community that shares joy and pain and fear and laughter. There are moments of revelation (“I think we’re related!”), confession (“I was a fat kid”), disagreement (“We should turn left, not right”) and euphoria (“I just had the best pee EVER”), all within the span of a few short hours. You quickly get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, discover who is a leader and who is a follower. You learn to trust (or not trust) the people that surround you, knowing that at any moment the whole thing could explode in a mess of bodies and bikes and pavement. It only takes a moment to turn heaven into hell.