I love loud freehubs and quiet drivetrains. I love loud socks and quiet Sunday mornings. I love crisp shifting and noiseless braking. I love the clicking sound of cleats clipping into pedals. I love the crunchy sound and weightless feeling of floating over endless gravel roads, head down, spinning in the drops. I love carving berms and clearing tabletop jumps ripping through flowy singletrack. I love working long, switchbacked road climbs, alternating sitting and standing, dancing with my bike, swaying my machine back and forth. I love tucking on the descents. I love the buzz sound and endless traction of high volume fat studded tires on frozen solid, packed snow. I love riding my bikes. All of them. No favorites. No discrimination. All bikes matter.
Friday, July 24, 2020
Close to 30 years ago, in April 1991, I bought my very first mountain bike from Mike’s Bike Shop in Shediac. A Trek 7000. Fluorescent green splattered over gloss black paint colour. Aluminum frame. Rigid fork. After mostly riding alone that first year, I joined the Moncton Mountain Bike Club in 1992. Tuesday night group rides were the highlight of my week. Exploring new areas. Most rides led by club founders Pete Cormier and Michel Charron. Thinking back, I’m pretty sure I attended every single one of those weekly rides that year. Fast forward 28 years later, I find myself riding again with Pete and Michel. Still exploring. Even riding some of the same trails that we rode way back when. Full circle. Bikes have changed immensely. Hair is grayer or non-existent. But the ride feeling is exactly the same. That same feeling that I always get every single time my legs turn the pedals. Just like when I first learned how to ride as a young kid. Timeless. Unchanged. If you have ever felt this feeling, you know. And if you know, as long as you physically can ride a bike, I really think that you should. I know for sure that I will.
Monday, July 20, 2020
Vacation is a big deal for me. Very high on my love list. Extra time off work more important than a pay raise. It’s not that I’m filthy rich. It’s just that I already have more stuff than I have time to adequately use and enjoy. So basically, what I really crave at this point in my life is more time to enjoy said stuff. Because my summer time off is so important to me, I had very high expectations. Endlessly dreaming about it all year. I know that I should be living in every present moment instead of longing for future salvation, but lately, if I’m totally honest, I haven’t been so good at practicing this. Sunny, warm days. Calm morning walks at the beach. Long rides. I even have a ride list that I started writing last winter. Expectations. The mental image of how things should be. Such a recipe for disappointment, frustration and unhappiness. I should know better, but I still can’t get out of my head sometimes. Last week was my first week off. I jumped in with both feet. 3 rides in the first 4 days. Then, the weather changed. A cold front rolled in. I longed for it to feel like summer again. I kept going back to the mental image I had created in my mind and felt much discontentment that reality didn’t match. Rolling through my neighborhood Wednesday afternoon, I got stung by I still don’t know what. It was not a bee. It was huge. It landed on my left knee and instantly helped itself to my quad. I swatted it off but it was too late. Maybe some type of horse fly? The sting seemed to penetrate my entire thigh. I didn’t have a good feeling about it. In denial. A déjà vu from about 7-8 years ago. An acute allergic reaction. Itchy beyond words the next day. Red. Swollen. Antibiotics. I hate taking meds. But in this case, it was necessary. The universe showing me that I’m not the one calling the shots at the end of the day. A few days later, the summer weather has returned and my knee feels much better. A dog walk on the beach with my wife. A gravel ride around the city. My entire being settling into our staycation. No expectations. Wide open. Who knew that an insect had so much to teach me about letting go of expectations.
Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Finish most of your rides feeling like you could still keep going. I remember this advice from one of the first cycling training books that I read close to 25 years ago. It made an impression on me mostly because I always rode as hard and as long as I could every single time I went out. Yes, I was young and naïve. But also, growing up, I learned that I should always try my best. And if I still had something left when I finished, to me it meant that I hadn’t tried my best. Today, even if I don’t train anymore, I still often have a hard time knowing when to say when. I often have a tendency to overdo it. Part of it is fear of missing out, not wanting to waste an opportunity to ride. Mostly though, I just get caught up in the moment. I get carried away. I’m just enjoying it too much. Foolishly in love with riding bikes. Lingering fatigue. Waking up tired and sore day after day. Modern society has a very dysfunctional relationship with fatigue. It doesn’t have much patience for it. It’s always trying to find a quick fix. Coffee. Sugary snacks. Energy drinks. Commonly accepted artificial ways of dealing with our chronic lethargy. Tricks to enable our bodies to keep going and going. Fatigue is often synonymous with weakness. Our bodies communicate with us constantly. Taught to focus on the external, we ignore it. Meditation is slowly teaching me to honor my lack of energy and stop fighting it. But for some reason, this lesson is such a very hard one for me to learn. How healthy is your relationship with fatigue?