Friday, July 31, 2020

All bikes matter


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

Stinger Expectations


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?

Thursday, July 9, 2020


During one of my rides last week, my settled mind wandering, I started thinking about the people in my life that I truly enjoy spending time with. The people that I can genuinely be myself with. The people that get me. The people that I talk about real stuff with. I had a hard time finding 10 names. And that was counting my dog Zen. I’m not sure if this is supposed to make me feel happy or feel sad? There’s no doubt that I am an introvert. It’s not really that I’m anti-social. It’s just that I’m anti-bullshit, anti-fakeshit. Asking someone how they’re doing even if you don’t want to know the real answer is hypocritical. Small talk. Chitchat. Trivial conversation. So artificial. That’s why it can be so tiring after a while. That’s one thing that I love about working from home because of the current Covid pandemic. I don’t need to politely fake it all day. Long solo rides have always had a hypocrisy cleansing effect for me. Out there, by myself, I can really just be myself. And if I’m completely honest, I find that there are not enough opportunities for this in today’s fast paced, robotic world. I like being alone. And I can’t really remember the last time that I felt lonely. I believe that is one of the things that meditation teaches. It teaches us how to be alone and well simultaneously. I remember hating Saturday nights spent home by myself when I was young. It made me feel so depressed. That’s the thing with youth. Lots and lots of friends, even if they’re not real friends, is what we all want. Security. Popularity. Proof that we’re worthy. But as we grow older, we begin to understand that our worthiness comes from the inside. It’s the only kind of worthiness that is everlasting. How comfortable are you with solitude?

Monday, July 6, 2020

4 years

4 years ago yesterday, I didn’t feel like racing.  The last race in our local short track mountain bike series, I made myself go.  Just push through it.  Fake it till you make it.  4 years ago yesterday, on the last lap, my tired hand slipped off the bar on a rooty downhill.  There was no way to save it.  I tried to roll as I hit the ground.  My head took the brunt of the fall.  I got up, oblivious to the fact that every single thing had just changed in that moment.  4 years later, on Sunday morning, the plan was a solo 50k road loop.  Supposed to turn right, I went the other way to avoid the threatening clouds.  I felt good so I kept riding.  And I kept going the other way chasing bluer skies.  My 50k ride metamorphosed into a 94k adventure.  A latte.  An old graffiti covered bridge.  An expired church monument.  Boundless farm fields.  Quiet country back roads.  Nature park gravel path shortcuts.  I thought about my concussaversary all last week but for some reason didn’t when I woke up yesterday.  Until it came to me about an hour into my ride.  Gratitude overflowing.  Time at a certain standstill.  An overwhelming appreciation for all that my personal purgatory has taught me about life’s truth.  Most people don’t understand how much this invisible injury has affected me both physically and emotionally.  I don’t really talk about it anymore even if I’m still not 100% recovered.  I still get that drunk, dizzy, disconnected feeling now and again.  I look fine, so I just pretend to be.  Besides, unless you’ve experienced it first hand, it’s simply unexplainable.  4 years ago yesterday, one of the hardest things turned out to be one of the best things to ever happen to me.

Friday, July 3, 2020


Bravery.  Growing up, I remember feeling different than everyone else.  Like an outsider.  Like I was following a different script.  Like I didn’t fit the mold that society had created.  A sensitive kid who identified more with non-conventional pursuits instead of what most everyone else was doing.  A teenager who was drawn more towards the eccentric nonconformists instead of the so-called normal.  Now that I’m older, I’m beginning to realize that maybe everyone else feels the same way to a certain extent.  Even the people who seem to fit the template perfectly.  They are just better at creating the illusion.  We all want to fit in.  We all want acceptance.  One of our basic needs.  To be loved.  So we take on these roles in order to survive.  Not unlike a character played by an actor in a movie, we carefully build our persona, our outside façade.  This front is of utmost importance.  The figurative mask that keeps us alive.  We wear it for so long that we eventually lose touch with who we are underneath.  We forget about the one wearing this disguise.  But we’re still here.  It’s really just a matter of peeling our outer layers, lifting our veil.  We talk about the importance of being brave, of always being courageous.  I am beginning to understand that the ultimate act of bravery is showing up as your authentic self.  Everything else falls into place from there.  Stop hiding.  Be brave.