Thursday, 8 December 2011


esterday I met a chef during a ride with the Rotations Cycle Club in Southampton, Long Island. Like me, he's new to the sport. Like me, he's been riding a lot and has become fitter over the past few months. In fact, he tells me he's shed about 35 pounds and has just completed his first triathlon.

Then he asks a "medical question."

He asks if I have an explanation for why his libido has diminshed since be began his training. The devil in his eye, he admits that this change might be for the better. He admits that his prior libido may have been a little too much sometimes.

During the ride, I cannot think of a medical explanation for this phenomenon. Hormones? The effect of the bike seat? We discuss our training and our goals. He shares a recipe.

We finish our ride and part ways. But I can't help but think about his question. Why, indeed, did his sexual appetite change? Why has my appetite for food and alcohol changed? Why do I find myself craving more healthy foods? Why do I want to retire and rise early, even on the weekends?

Perhaps our bodies are smarter than we suspect. As we demand more of them in our athletic pursuits, they demand more of us. Our appetites change to reflect what we need. And when we are in tune with what we need, we can be a stronger and more efficient machine. The trick is to listen to this visceral advice.

With food, this makes perfect sense. Donuts and cheeseburgers do not a triathlete make. But sex? One would think that better health would improve or increase libido. In the case of my new friend, it may be that his prior libido was unhealthy. In the same way his training has caused him to lose excess weight, it has freed him from the weight of unhealthy sexual cravings. No longer does he feel the need to binge on empty calories. His body has decided to eschew the donuts and cheeseburgers of junk food sex and to instead opt for better, healthier choices. Now it's up to him to decide whether he wants to listen.

I'm learning a lot from cycling. Not just technical stuff like when I need to lube my chain and fill my tires. I'm learning about patience and pacing. About saving some energy for the end of the ride. About not needing to be first or to win, even though it's fun do perform well. The gift of cycling (or yoga, for that matter) is in the doing. The psychic and physical benefits surround that.