Dirty words keep us laughing, they get us in trouble, and they bring us together. The inherent nature of language is to unite, and the taboo helps specifically unite subgroups. A word often subject to scrutiny and aligned with negative connotation is Obsession. People who are Obsessed are crazy, freaks, sick, in need of help, etc. But Obsession is more than an illness like OCD or Psychopathy, it is a core driving factor for countless people, every day, all day, for a lifetime.
My mom tells a story about me as a child, where she was wandering around the house looking for me, and noticed my Wellies were also missing from the shoe mat. She opened up the door to the garage, and there I was, trying to buckle my helmet, standing next to my bike. This took place long before I was forming solid memories, so I take her word for it, because it’s wholly believable. My Obsession in life is bicycles, and it always has been, apparently.
From the simple days of riding around the cul-de-sac and tearing up the yard to build jumps, to hill sprints and racing, two wheels and going fast is what I like to do, and may perhaps do best. While wrenching in the basement the other night, my mom popped down to chat. The ebb and flow of conversation found its way to her asking, “How much money do you have in bikes down here?” Quite the loaded question!
A different way to reframe that question, I said, was how much money those bikes have saved me in therapy (to which, I was reminded that my health insurance would cover that). I prefer to wrestle my demons on punchy climbs and winding singletrack, I professed. Regardless, it is my Obsession that has guided me to this point in my life, one which I’d argue is a healthy, happy, and productive epoch of my existence.
Like any proper Obsession, I always want my bike to be faster, more efficient, just “moar” as the kids say. Chasing speed also means chasing technology and mechanical development; the Obsession is all-consuming and multifaceted. The unrelenting interest in the sport I love has led me down a different road: I now cover racing, instead of being the rider between the tape. But that doesn’t mean I’ve lost my zeal for riding, if anything it’s made me more Obsessed; it’s all I think about, I am always working toward the next time I get to ride, whether it’s in 3 hours or 3 days or 3 weeks.
It has come to the point now where close friends––with whom I ride several times a week in the summer––still can’t quite fathom the depths to which I have started to dive. Most recently it’s been regarding bike set-up, nerding out details which the average rider couldn’t even be bothered with…but my Obsession is rubbing off on the group, and I now spend a couple minutes worth of time each week fielding text messages with tech questions, and even more time on rides droning on about such geeky details that eyes begin to glaze over.
Obsession to me means having an extreme focus. My focus keeps me sane (and looking/sounding insane to others), while providing me with the drive to keep eeking out a place in the actual industry to which I have given uncounted dollars, hoping to perhaps have that monetary exchange become a more-consistently two-way street. I can only hope my Obsession is seen as valuable, that my passion and drive are noteworthy enough to be taken seriously and the potential for what I’m offering is realized and extrapolated upon.