Tracklocross Is the Sisyphus of Cycling

Sisyphus pushing a bike wheel

Albert Camus suggested that being condemned to an eternity of fruitless labour was a hideous punishment to be bestowed upon Sisyphus; he had obviously never raced tracklocross. Sisyphus, in case you have forgotten, was punished with having to push a rock up a hill, and the rock would roll back down the hill every time he reached the summit.

There are a few tales of how Sisyphus came to be punished by the gods. As I have mentioned Camus, we will go with the version that he talks about in Le mythe de Sisyphe. In this version, Sisyphus captures and chains up Death; while he is imprisoned, no one can die. Naturally, when the gods discover this, they are pissed, especially when Sisyphus also escapes from the underworld after dying. He then is punished with the futile boulder-pushing task. Camus considers this to be absurd and believes it shows us how life is absurd.

For Camus, this makes Sisyphus a hero. He lives life in the moment, hates death, and, for reward, is given a pointless task. I am sure, like Camus, you are now thinking about your work-life here.

The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd.

But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious.

We all, as tracklocrossers, raise our consciousness every time we pedal. As soon as those pedals start to turn, our brains free themselves from the shackles of everyday life. We take one futile task and use it to show us the rest of the futile tasks we undertake in an uncaring universe.

Our freedom is the same as the part of Sisyphus’ existence where he walks back down the hill to start again. Here, Camus wonders what Sisyphus is thinking. He believes that Sisyphus becomes conscious of his fate and accepts it. He knows it is absurd, but he keeps pushing. He recognises he can not escape, and he accepts the absurdity of his situation and can then become content.

Tracklocross is absurd, but we do it anyway, and it brings us freedom and shows us how to be content with our lives. Camus would love tracklocross.

The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.

One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

4 thoughts on “Tracklocross Is the Sisyphus of Cycling

  1. This is fascinating! I rode a hybrid city/trail bike for years, then four years ago switched to a road bike that has clearance for gravel tires. So I ride road and unpaved with it and am familiar with cyclocross, but had never heard of tracklocross until I checked out your blog, seeing you’d visited mine. It looks like a super fun time!

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