Friday, May 6, 2022

Margot




I may have been in middle school?  Or a freshman in high school?  Maybe?  I’m not sure.  But after all these years, I still remember reading Ray Bradbury’s science fiction short story “All Summer in a Day”.  A futuristic story of nine year old classmates living on Venus, a planet where it rains pretty much constantly, the sun only appearing for a few hours every seven years.  One of the students, Margot, had moved there from Earth five years earlier and was the only one in her class who remembers what the sun looks and feels like.  Different from everyone else, she is constantly bullied and locked into a closet just before the sun comes out of its seven year hiding causing her to miss the whole thing.  The details of this story were very fuzzy in my mind after all these years.  But I clearly remember wondering what it would be like to live in such a wet world.  The intense feeling of euphoria during that brief period of sunshine.  The tragedy of how Margot was treated.  The devastation of missing that sunny interlude.  And the sheer agony of having to wait another seven long years.  Growing up, I remember literally sitting by the window waiting for the rain to stop.  Me and my friends in my dad’s garage, impatiently watching our BMX ramps dry so we could ride.  Even today, I still glance out the window every single morning as soon as I wake up to check the weather.  Rain for five days straight last week evoked memories of life on Venus and Margot’s story.  This week the weather changed.  Sun and clouds.  Drying gravel.  Close to 80k on Wednesday.  My longest ride of this year.  Just getting back home, it starts to rain again.  Not for 5 days this time.  Just a shower.  Poor Margot.

 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Number Sixty



39 years ago.  April 1983.  Before going to the car show at the Moncton Coliseum, we dropped into Eastern Sports.  Me and my cousin Armand.  We both bought Haro Flo Panel BMX plates.  I didn’t know what number to choose.  I remembered a picture in one of my BMX Action magazines of a dude riding a white SE PK Ripper like mine.  I didn’t really know who he was but I really liked his style.  And that white PK!  I’m not 100% sure, but if I remember correctly, his name was Bubba Hayes.  And he was rocking #60 as he was slaying his competition on the BMX track.  I felt inspired.  And decided to also go with #60 for my first full year of BMX racing.  I was 14 years old.  Last year, while cleaning my old bed room, my mom found my old Haro Flo Panel plate.  I cleaned it up.  And Luc provided the stickers including my old #60 bringing it back to life.  39 years ago.  1983.  Eat.  Sleep. BMX.  Repeat.  Yeah, that sure was a great summer… 

 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Shunyata




The pavilion.  It got a face lift.  Actually, it’s more like a foundation lift.  The roof and legs are still the same.  The old rotten wooden deck floor is now gone.  It has been replaced with a concrete slab.  I like it.  Even if I miss the wooden benches.  Maybe they’ll be added again later this year?  It’s still quite cold, windy and rainy here.  But the snow is pretty much all gone.  Spring has arrived.  Just when winter seemed to linger on forever, it’s suddenly over.  Just like that.  Such an abrupt pivotal seasonal shift.  And even on my 54th trip around the sun, it somehow still catches me by surprise.  Even the songs that the birds are singing have changed.  Waking up to these pleasant springtide melodies flooding me with so many carefree childhood memories.  That feeling of excitement that I would get when the bike came out of winter storage.  Elation.  So much promise.  So many adventures just around the corner.  And a whole new level of aliveness.  I’ve ridden out to the pavilion five times in the last few weeks.  Something leading me here.  Mercifully guiding me.  It’s hard to explain.  Buddha calls it shunyata.  Which translates to emptiness or voidness.  No matter how everything keeps changing, this nothingness always remains the same.  This eternal now.  Maybe that’s the whole point.  Maybe that’s what keeps bringing me and my bike here to the pavilion.  Nothing at all.

 

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Nothing to prove





35 years.  I sold my 1985 Haro Master Freestyler in the spring of 1988 after my first year of university.  Not because I no longer enjoyed riding it.  Simply because everyone kept telling us that it was time to start adulting.  We sold the ramps.  I bought a car.  And eventually got into mountain bikes.  Then road and cyclocross.  “Adult” bicycles.  I have always and will forever be in love with bikes.  All of them.  But there is certainly a very special spot deep in my heart for 20” BMX.  My roots.  Today, with social media, watching so many old school freestylers riding again has rekindled this lifelong passion.  My childhood heroes.  RL Osborn.  Eddie Fiola.  Martin Aparijo.  This newfound inspiration.  My last chance.  So begins the search for a modern old school 20” BMX bike.  They are so rare right now.  Sold out everywhere.  It takes a while.  But I finally find a 2021 GT Pro Performer Heritage 20.  Old school looks.  Modern geometry.  Present-day technology.  Just what I need to tame this mid-life crisis itch.  Of all the types of bike riding that I have done in the last 35 years, flatland freestyle sure is the form that is going to take the most practice.  Just for fun.  And with absolutely nothing to prove…

 

Friday, March 18, 2022

Pedaling Zen





Fat bikes are generally categorized as mountain bikes.  The only difference being the extra-wide tires really.  During my last ride,  I thought about how I seem to ride mine more like a gravel bike.  Backcountry exploration is what I yearn for.  Wandering through the woods.  Wallowing in the forest’s silence.  Just me and my bike.  The steady harmony of air moving in and out of my lungs.  The crunch of my fat studded tires rolling over these ice roads.  As much as I appreciate the grooming efforts of all those who maintain on our local winter fat bike trail systems, I quickly get bored with multiple laps of a smaller loop.  I go over things again and again enough in my mind.  I don’t want to be doing the same when I ride.  The intention is to get away.  To keep going.  Further and further.  Passing through.  For me, it’s never about speed or how many watts I’m pushing.  It’s simply about this meditative movement.  Pedaling Zen.  Something therapeutic about this effortless working pace.  Something restorative about quietly spinning pedals with a steady heart rate of 120 beats per minute.  This perfect speed.  This perfect effort.  This perfect therapy.  This winter fat bike season has come to an end.  With day time highs mostly above freezing now, it’s time to hang up the winter riding tool.  And share some highlight shots from the last few months.

 

Monday, March 14, 2022

The unknown solitude seeking woodsman




Shortly after passing this abandoned camp in the woods, I notice fresh human footprints in the fallen snow.  In both directions.  A walk out.  And a walk back.  I keep riding.  At my own pace.  Following the footmarks.  Around each corner, glancing as far ahead as I can see.  Just before reaching my own turning point, I finally spot the foot traveler.  Turning off the main trail.  Around the closed gate.  Steadily continuing down the well beaten snow path that he later tells me leads to his backyard.  An older fellow.  Sporting olive rubber boots and a very well worn work hoodie.  Do I say something?  I don’t want to scare him.  Before I have the chance to decide if I should ring my bike bell, he slowly glances back.  Hi, isn’t it a gorgeous day to be out in the woods?  He smiles and agrees.  We end up talking for over 15 minutes.  We never exchange names.  But he does tell me that he’s 72 years old and that he does this very walk out to the edge of the meadow and back twice daily.  It helps control my blood pressure.  And also boosts my mental health, he adds.  I can’t help but smile.  How he spends his days really sounds like something that I would be doing at his age.  He asks me about my bike.  And we talk about politics and how kids nowadays don’t go outside much.  Even if I have never met him and still don’t know his name, I feel a certain connection.  In our endless longing to be out alone in the woods.  In our need for solitude.  In our understanding that wandering through the forest’s silence calms our chattering mind.   Close to 3 hours of pedaling.  The snow dancing as it steadily gravitates towards the ground.  Wondering about all the stories inside this abandoned camp.  And ruminating on my short conversation with the unknown solitude seeking walking woodsman.  Yeah, this was a good day…

 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

38 years


38 years.  From a na├»ve teenager to a middle aged man.  So much has changed.  Except for the feeling that I get whenever I throw my leg over my white SE PK Ripper.  The feeling that never grows old.  The feeling that never dies.  The only difference is that I appreciate it so much more now.  Like @toddlyons would say “We’ve been here for years”.  I wish I still had that 83 PK Ripper.

 

Friday, February 18, 2022

My Cyclotherapy






Akin to a surfer endlessly chasing the perfect wave, so much of winter fat biking is about patiently waiting for perfect snow conditions.  Hard packed.  Crusty.  Not too icy.  Ideal traction.  White asphalt.  I have been fortunate enough to experience such conditions a few times since I started riding winter fat over 5 years ago.  But this year has been a few hits and a whole lot of misses.  From very cold temps, major snowstorms, to mild temps and rain.  It has definitely been an exercise in patience and carefully picking ride days.  This labour of love.  This passion pushing me out the door.  Outside.  My bike bringing my body and mind back to the same place.  Disrobing my thoughts.  These miniscule glimpses of emptiness.  Breathing room.  My dose of courage for the day.  Here.  Now.  This infinite stillness.  This nothingness.  My cyclotherapy.

 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Winter Solstice




These are the happiest days of my life.  These are the saddest days of my life.  Read that again.  Is this even possible?  Can we be up and down at the same time?  These two sides to all things.  This yin and this yang.  This duality.  Balancing between these two opposing forces.  Trying to live somewhere in the middle.  The more that I work on myself.  The more that I let the things that don’t belong to me go.  The more that I let myself be happy.  The more that I also open myself up to sadness.  There is no other way.  I have come to understand that living is really about feeling.  All of it.  And in order to feel happiness, we also need to be willing to feel sadness.  One cannot exist without the other.  All the same.  All one.  This continuum.  Life’s circles.  Winter solstice.  The shortest day.  The longest night.  Closing this loop.  Mother nature showing us that a time for recovery is necessary after a time for prosperity.  That both darkness and light are a necessary part of life.  She is our true rhythm.  We can try to resist her.  But we must understand that mother does indeed know best.  May we have the courage to accept her dark season’s invitation to feel our own inner darkness.  Feel it to heal it.  As we patiently open to this re-emerging light.  



 

Friday, December 17, 2021

Authentic connection



Exhausting.  Walking around pretending.  One too many fake smiles.  More than enough phony conversations.  How’s it going?  We don’t really want to know.  We’re just trying to be polite by asking the question.  Hypocritical small talk.  Is silence just too uncomfortable?  I guess that’s why I prefer working from home.  I guess that’s also why I prefer being alone rather than socializing.  I just can’t stand the fakeness of it anymore.  Instead of squandering empty words into the air, I much prefer authentic connection.  I need it actually.  It feeds me.  Lifts me up.  Reminds me that life is so much more than all this pointless babble.  Last Friday.  The day after the coldest night of this season.  Feeling underdressed.  Rolling down my snow covered driveway.  A slap to my body’s face.  Blood pumping.  The spin of my legs cranking up my inner furnace.  That’s my favorite thing about getting out in the deep cold.  It shocks me into the present moment.  The crisp air instantly bringing me back to my body.  This thermal emergency.  The frosty air entering my lungs making me more aware of my breath.  Cold air is clear air.  Clear air is clear mind.  Cleansing.  As much as indoor riding has simply become too exhausting for me, riding outside in these harsh conditions gives me the authentic connection that I crave.  My bridge back to myself.  My bridge back to nature.  Me here for life.  Now.  Life here for me.  Now.

 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

My very own board game of days




Eyes closed.  Tucked in under these white snow blankets.  These stripped trees.  Sound asleep.  Just like so many of these wild animals.  Hibernating.  These beings of light.  Their deep rooted innate sense of knowing.  Understanding that this dark season is rest season.  Recovering.  Renewing.  Taking the time to pay the bill for what the prosperous months have served.  This circle of life.  For as long as I can remember, I have always pictured calendar dates as a road map of sorts in my mind.  Kind of like the square boxes that player pieces move through when playing a board game.  Each day its own box.  With its own feel and challenges.   All strung together in succession.  The last box of the year adjacent to the first box of the year.  This illusory track that I have been looping around annually.  Its path not quite circular.  But not exactly square either.  Subtle turns on pivotal boxes.  Like on the first day of school in September.  And straightaways during the uneventful times of the year.  Like the main summer months.  July and August.  Easy.  Just cruise through the unbending open lane of boxes and enjoy the ride.  December is in the top left hand corner of my year circuit.  On a slight upward slant.  And the shade of the boxes is noticeably darker.  Leveling off and brightening up around Christmas.  My very own board game of days.  Painted long ago with the honest creativity of my inner child.   Unchanged my whole life.  Forever clearly plotted inside my head.  A pale spotlight highlighting the current day box.  The now.  A few weeks before the shortest day of the year.  The darkest box.  A time when all that I have suppressed during the brighter boxes is coming back up to the surface.  In my face.  Begging for my attention.  Eyes closed.  This rest season.  Recovering.  Renewing.  Purposefully waiting for my player piece to move onto brighter boxes.

 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Racing to our grave




Racing to our grave.  Faster and faster.  Fooling ourselves.  Calling it progress.  The evolution of this society.  Endlessly pursuing these promised rewards.  Going for the win.  They keep dangling these carrots.  But I’ve come to a point where I just can’t keep chasing them anymore.  What’s the point?  Too many empty promises.  Hopefully waking up from this trance before it’s too late.  The cemetery is already full of way too much regret.  This one and only life.  Shouldn’t we be taking our sacred time?  So much advice to help us live longer.  Eat healthy.  Exercise regularly.  More years.  More time.  More moments.  But what’s the point if we insist on rushing through them?  To get more things done?  To check more things off our bucket list?  Longevity and speed.  Can they really feasibly co-exist?  Caught up in all these comparisons.  The seeds that breed our separation.  The cause of these wars.  I’m done fighting.  No winners.  Only losers.  Standing here.  On my own podium.  Everything that I need to be healthy and happy already inside of me.  In unlimited abundance.  Everyone is beautiful.  Everyone has so much to give.  The problem is that we’re not shown how to shine.  Just too damn busy.  Caught up in this endless grind.  Racing to our grave.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Who is this feeding?





Is this feeding my ego?  Or is this feeding my soul?  I have been asking myself these questions a whole lot lately.  Every single thing that we do fosters one or the other.  Or a combination of both.  But one of them is always at the very least slightly being favored.  My ego.  This inner voice in my head comparing and measuring how and where I fit in.  This learned mental construct.  The fake me.  My soul.  This intuitive knowing feeling deep in my heart.  This love.  This compassion.  Eternal.  The true me.  Yesterday I surpassed my total mileage ridden from last year.  The most since my concussion in 2016.  My ego really got a buzz from that.  It lives by the numbers.  But It also isn’t happy for very long.  Fueled by fear, it just keeps wanting more and more.  It’s an asshole like that.  If you have been in the sport long enough you have probably noticed that ego driven cyclists don’t last.  They ride and perform for a few years then disappear.  Their egos get bored after a while and lose interest once they stop improving.  Lifelong cycling is a soul inspired endeavor.  It has to be.  It may even be something that we’re born with.  In our blood.  Coded in our genes.  Above this season’s numbers, I gratefully recognize the moments of deep peace that I have felt during these rides.  That grounding feeling.  Bringing me back home.  What does my riding feed?  Does it feed my ego or my soul?  There is certainly a bit of both, but I truly feel that these ever so subtle soul whispers are what entice me to keep pedaling.  Thank you cycling.  It’s been a great year so far.