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The Ring: A Collection of Voices


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Mar 6, 2015 – I didn’t ride my bike yesterday, I didn’t ride my bike today, I’m not going to ride it tomorrow or Thursday, and Friday is looking iffy. You’d be amazed at how hard it is to make stuff up in the absence of facts.

Seth Davidson/Yuzuru Sunada

Instead, I thought I would do a little “craft water update” to share my perspective on what the last couple of beer-free months have been like.

1. Has it helped my bike racing?

2. Has it helped me lose weight?
In the beginning, yes, because beer seems to spawn pizzas and cheese nachos, along with wings and fries. But beer also helps you lose weight because you drink so much you pass out, and it’s hard to get fat when you’re unconscious. In the short term I dropped about ten pounds, but now the net loss is only about four.

3. Is my life better?
It’s different. With beer my life was fun. Raging, awesome fun. Every waking hour was a fun opportunity, even 10:00 AM on a weekday. Nothing is as fun as being drunk. So my life is a lot less fun now because the best evening spent reading a good book doesn’t begin to compare with shouting and carrying on like a fool in a noisy bar with a bunch of equally drunken friends. Or strangers.

4. Are you happier? No. But I’m a lot less miserable. In fact, I’m not miserable at all. With beer I was super happy until the non-beer moments kicked in. Then I was sad. And there were a ton more non-beer moments than beer moments, even though I tried hard to max out the beer ones.

5. Are the people around you happier?
Big 10-4 on that, good buddy. It’s amazing how happy Mrs. WM is at not having to carry me out of family restaurants.

6. Is your work better?
Off the charts. Got my mojo back on that shit.

7. Do you sleep better?
Technically, yes, but practically, no, because now even though I sleep deeply, since I’m not drunk I’m easily awakened by the chainsaw sleeping next to me in bed sawing down an old-growth forest every ten seconds.

8. Do you crave beer?
Yes. Each day is about 16-17 waking hours locked in the crave cave.

9. Have your friends and family supported you?
Yes. Without them I’d be back in the gutter.

10. What’s the biggest change?
Not ever being able to shut off the switch and having to just fuggin’ cope with the torrent.

11. What was the biggest shock?
Physical withdrawal followed by six weeks of profound depression. If I ever doubted that I was an alcoholic, I don’t doubt it now.

12. What was the most pleasant surprise?
That those two things ended. And when they did, the following day felt like one of those mornings when you wake up and there’s been a big rain. Everything is so fresh and clean and pure. Until I wanted a Racer 5 ten seconds later.

13. How have people reacted?
Overwhelmingly supportive, a handful not so much. But what has blown me away the most is finding out how many people are also hopeless drunks battling for their emotional and physical lives every single day. They’re all around me. Some have reached out because they’re sober and want to help, but more incredibly, some have reached out to me for help. I would do anything for them, although it’s pretty much like the blind leading the blind.

14. Are you in AA?
No and yes. I’ve never been to a meeting, but I benefit all the time from the wisdom and support of fellow alcoholics. And I’m in AA in this sense — I’ve vowed to myself that the next time alcohol crosses my lips, I’m headed straight there. And if that fails, I’m checking into rehab.

15. Better sex life?
You’ll have to check in with Mrs. WM on that one. On second thought, don’t.

16. How many days since your last drink?
I don’t know and don’t fuggin’ care. This isn’t a hitting streak, it’s an attempt not to be drinking at this moment. That’s all that matters to me.

17. Any tips?
Best way to start stopping is to announce it, even if it’s just to the person who talks back to you in the mirror every morning.

18. And staying stopped?
No idea. Maybe check to see if there’s a drink in your hand, and if there is, toss it?

19. Do you see drinking and drinkers differently?
Yes. I used to be one of them. Now I’m just green with envy.

20. Is it hard being around alcohol?

21. Has it been worth it?
Saved my marriage. Saved my family. Saved my job. Saved my life. So if I could add to that another win in a bike race, the answer would be a resounding “Probably.”