Cycling With Sisyphus

My knowledge of Greek Mythology is almost completely lacking, as I am frequently reminded when the category comes up on Jeopardy. But I know about Sisyphus. He was this king who was a scumbag and angered the Gods by trying to cheat death. So Zeus sentenced him to an eternal life doing the pleasant task of rolling a boulder up the hills of Hades. Forever and forever, aching muscles and numbed brain. Sort of like this panicdemic.

The new mantra is “Stay the Course”. Yes, it has been 3 1/2 months. But keep up the distancing and the masks and the ban on groups or parties, unless you are demonstrating/rioting for social justice. Those groups appear acceptable to our authorities. No little league games or graduation ceremonies, but statue toppling is fine.

But “Courses” have finish lines. So you can’t really ‘stay the course’ on this panicdemic since you don’t know where it is going. Or when (if?) it will end.

This panicdemic isn’t a course to be stayed on. It’s a Sisyphean treadmill.

Cycling is also kind of a Sisyphean labor, doing a task that can never be completed. There is always another hill to climb, another mile of headwind to battle, another futile chase trying to keep up with faster riders. Unlike Sisyphus, we cyclists can choose to stop riding. But we don’t, because if we do we will lose the fitness we have worked so hard for. And unlike Sisyphus, cyclists get to experience moments of real joy, when the wind is at our backs and our legs are strong and supple and we whiz along feeling like we are pedaling ‘without a chain’. These moments are rare, but when they happen they are pure bliss.

So it is back to the Sisyphean labor of trying to do what our panicdemic experts and government authorities tell us to do, until they change their minds and tell us to do something else. Roll that bolder up that hill. “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time.” I’m a little better at Shakespeare than mythology; I didn’t even have to look that one up.

Like Mr. Macbeth, I’m getting a mite weary both of panicdemic protocols and cycling. I thought I loved cycling, but lately I feel like I’m just kind of going through the motions turning the pedals without a goal or plan or objective. No trips, no club rides, not much fun. Looking for the finish line that isn’t there.

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