Loneliness & Isolation
8“It’s difficult to make meaningful relationships even with the team. We don’t live in the same area and people have a hard time keeping in touch even when spending a whole season together.” Ben Raby, Pro Cyclist on the difficulty of isolation inside and outside the race circuit
In sports psychology scholarship there’s not much written about making friends, keeping lovers, and staying connected while pursuing professional sports careers or elite athletic goals. Yet it is a real concern.
The racing lifestyle is isolated because of its itinerant and transient nature. Times of solitude are absolutely necessary for training, travel, recovery, spirituality and self-discovery. Bike riders have plenty of that.
We are also meant to be surrounded by others for learning, sharing, and worship. These times with others in community sometimes seem harder to come by and therefore more precious to maintain. A return home may not alleviate loneliness because a racer isn’t in one place long enough to develop and keep close friendships. Sometimes teammates and lovers are not the best choices for releasing the tensions of racing via communication.
As a group, we cyclists sometimes display remedial social skills. We enjoy the isolating experiences of a bike ride and are comfortable alone for long periods. But we also experience a lot of minor trials and major trauma that should be processed in the context of caring listeners – timed as close to the event as possible.
One must create understanding and independent support networks that permit freedom to come and go – making small talk or sharing deeply – depending on what social need is required at a particular time. Just as marital communication must consist of mundane discussions from fixing the toilet all the way to profound disclosures about doubts and dreams, we must have people to talk to, laugh with, cry with and relate our simplest thoughts and most heartfelt notions – as cyclists, competitors, athletes with pressures.
Perhaps knowing that communication – and all types of it – is necessary will help us be better company for one another – listening patiently to a frustrated race report or fantastic ride story.
It’s also another occasion for dialogue with God.
Prayer re: Loneliness & Isolation
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
“The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart.” Psalm 34:18
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” 9Psalms 147:3
We ask for listeners, friends, and companions. Bless those in our lives who care for us. We share all our troubles with You, O God, so now listen to this…
Ponder What do I tell others, what do I keep to myself? Affirm I tell God everything, some people some things, and others nothing about my troubles. Watch the hard continue to ride…especially after a good conversation clears the air!
8Conversations with Ben Raby during tough and uncertain times. At season’s end, he learned unexpectedly that team sponsorship had folded for the following year.
9Compilation of The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society and Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.