Ride vs. race


Last Sunday I was pumped and pooped. I finished my longest bike ride – 227km – as part of the The Ride to Conquer Cancer. I knew this was going to be a physical challenge, and it turned out to be a mental challenge that started before I even signed up for The Ride.

In April, my brother signed up for The Ride and invited me to join him. My first reaction was, “no way, I am not good at fundraising, I would have to buy a bike, I would have to train a lot.” But he had planted a seed that started to grow because I was looking for a new physical challenge, a goal for the summer’s physical activity. I said yes.

Scarcity-thinking was entrenched within me; I fussed about having enough time to train, I fussed about figuring out how fast we could go so we could finish in a respectable time, I fussed about the chunks of time when training would be impossible. My brother told me not to worry – we were going for a bike ride, not a race. How fast we finished didn’t matter.

But deep inside, I wanted to race.

Then, as I took this exploration of scarcity and abundance with me on a wilderness quest this spring, I received the gift of discerning chronos and kairos time.


Chronos = time. The passage of time. The measurement of time. Related words: chronology, chronometer, chronic, anachronism, chronicle.  Quantitative.  A specific amount of time. An day. An hour. A minute.  (Link to Wikipedia.)

Kairos = the right, or opportune moment in time. The supreme moment.  Qualitative. A moment. A season.  Crises that bring opportunity. The crucial time.  (Link to Wikipedia.)


I learned I was choosing to race with time.

A race is in chronos time; how fast I finish matters. A ride is in kairos time; I move from moment to moment, taking in the experience, shifting and adjusting, learning. In race mode, where I place matters. How I compare to others matters. In ride mode, I notice my accomplishment. I notice the physical challenge of cycling 112km one day, then 115 the next, when the most ground I have covered in a day is 60km. I notice the hum of 1700 cyclists and volunteers who raised $7.9M for cancer research. I notice the fellow I followed for a while, with this note on his back:

I ride for my brother, Henrik. 54 years old.
February 1950 to May 2014

This fellow just lost his brother.

I notice how wonderful it is to be healthy and ride with my healthy brother. I choose to notice what I have, not what I don’t have.

Here we are at the finish line.
Photo: Angella Vertzaya


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