Friday, April 30, 2021

Closing 35 year old circles






Mike Fougere from Mike’s Bike Shop gives Luc a call in the winter of 1986 asking if we would be interested in doing shows as part of the Shediac Lobster Festival that summer.  Without a smidgen of hesitation, Luc answers “YES !!”.  We need to go meet the organizing committee to make it official.  Mike Fougere sets it up and both Luc and I head to Shediac an evening the following week for the meeting.  They tell us that it would be for 5 days, from Wednesday through Sunday.  Two 30 minute shows per day.  And they would pay $1000.  Luc and I agree without hesitation.  Actually, we’re trying to control our enthusiasm at this point.  $500 each to ride our bikes!  Something that we would technically have done for free!  HELL YEAH!!  Where do we sign!  They’re working on the schedule / brochure and ask for the name of our performing duo.  Now, at this point we don’t really have a name.  We had used “2-Hip Trick Team” a few times in the past.  We’d stolen it from a few of our BMX magazine heroes, Ron Wilkerson and Rick Avella who did demos under the name in northern California back in 1983.  It was so far removed from New Brunswick Canada that we figured they wouldn’t mind if we “borrowed” their name.  Actually, we more likely figured they would never know since they probably had no idea where New Brunswick was.  But to be honest, as cool as Ron and Rick were, they weren’t us.  Or maybe I should say we weren’t them.  We had wanted to find something new and original, but couldn’t come up with anything.  As creative as we were with our riding, our teenage brains weren’t wired to come up with a creative and fitting name.  Then, after a short pause, we simultaneously blurted out “The Freewheelers”.

Fast forward to early July, after one of the Shediac Festival afternoon shows, we’re sitting on our bikes next to the ramps chatting with a few kids who came to talk to us and take a look at the bikes.  Just as we’re ready to head inside to get changed and put the bikes away, we hear a voice behind us.  “The Freewheelers eh?!?!”.  The voice seems familiar.  We both turn around and come face to face with this cool dude with flowy long hair and California surfer vibe.  Mike Plume!  With our BMX racing friend Rick Snyder behind him.  Dudes !!  Mike was home on vacation from Alberta hanging out with Rick.  They had just caught the end of our show and wanted to stop by to say Hi.  We knew exactly what Mike meant by his Freewheelers comment and to be honest we kind of felt guilty that we had borrowed (or stolen) his name.  He wasn’t pissed.  He was actually happy to hear that his name idea had not gone to waste.  Mike wasn’t riding anymore.  His focus was now completely on his music.  And as much as the Freewheelers was a cool name for a BMX Trick Team, it wasn’t really a good name for a band.  He said the name literally stopped him in his tracks when he heard it announced in the Lobster Festival radio promo a day earlier.  He smiled and figured it was us.  It was real nice to see Mike again and to catch up with Rick as well.  

The Freewheelers, sponsored by Mike’s Bike Shop in Shediac at the time.  Today, close to 35 years later, Rick Snyder the president of that same Mike’s Bike Shop, now in Dieppe, still supporting the Freewheelers as we get back into riding BMX again !  Man, I just love it when life comes full circle like that !!

 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Sunday Morning




Sunday morning.  The last weekend of April.  Trees budding.  Birds chirping.  Tranquil earth breathing.  Apr├Ęs tea.  Just me and my bike on the crowded multi-use trial.  So many people antsy to get out after such a long winter made all the more painful due to this Covid pandemic.  Crisscrossing other trail users I begin noticing their demeanor and stride.  Some, unsettled and pressing.  All business.  Driven.  Others, at peace, lingering, happily puttering.  What are their inner voices saying in this moment?  Is the tone angry or loving?  What are their stories?  Why are they here right now?  A guy on a gravel bike wearing baggy gym shorts suddenly overtakes me from behind.  He seems to be trying really hard.  Mashing the pedals, upper body bobbing, breathing heavily, profusely sweating.  So much urgency in his pace.  Tormented almost.  My initial instinct is to step it up and pass him again but I don’t.  I stay in my lane.  Refocusing on my meditative spin cycle.  Maybe heaven and hell are not places or things.  Maybe they’re not beyond death, but rather states of being here on earth.  It almost seems like each and every person that I encounter on the trail fits into one of these categories.  Either in their own purgatory, running away from something, past traumas that they have not yet processed.  Or completely in the moment, wholly accepting the here and now, relishing in the day’s gift.  I’ve certainly visited both extremes in my life.  To hell and back.  Interspersed amongst brief glimpses of heaven.  I ride out to the pavilion, through Mill Creek park, working my way around the city.  Noticing the reflection of this world on the glassy water.  There it is.  Another glimpse of heaven.  So subtle.  So easily overlooked.  Sacred and trivial at the same time.  I ride for over 3 hours.  Easy.  Like Sunday morning.

 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Dreams




Dreams.  I’m not sure why, but for the longest time I didn’t dream at night.  Until these last few months.  Every night.  Multiple dreams.  Some so vivid, they’re in 4k HD.  Realistic.  Better than real-life, where you can touch and feel textures of things around you.  Overflowing with such profound emotion.  And everything makes sense and is so very believable.  I’ve recently read that dreams are our brains way of trying to finish what was started during the day.  That kind of makes sense.  But then I sometimes get these weird dreams that seem to come out of nowhere.  Dreams about things that I hadn’t thought about in weeks, months and sometimes even years.  Nightmares about decade old past traumas.  That stuff doesn’t just go away when we bury it deep in our psyche.  I don’t think it’s as much about unfinished daily tasks as it is about trying to process and make sense of what we’re still holding onto.  Our mind’s way of reminding us of what we need to let go.  When I trained to race, I’d dream about podiums and favorable results to help get me through my interval workouts.  Visualization.  Powerful stuff.  Making things happen by forcing them using sheer will.  Now, I don’t try to force anything.  I don’t dream about any future goal or objective as I pedal.  It’s simply about completely feeling the physical sensations inside and around me in the moment.  That is why I ride.  To bring me closer to the here and now.  Focusing on the energy of the wind.  Noticing how the cold feels on my fingers and toes.  This aliveness experience.  Then there’s also the dreams that our born during our childhood about how we want things in our life to unfold.  As I get older, these dreams are definitely becoming much simpler.  They’re no longer about stuff, goals, accolades, titles or accomplishments.  They’re more emotional.  Envisioning quality time with family and friends.  Simple.  In the moment.  Feelings of happiness and well-being.  Maybe, at the end of the day, dreams are more like fires than treasures.  Maybe they’re not meant to be held onto.  Maybe they’re just meant to be bowed down to from a safe distance.  Dreams.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Le soleil






The sun.  In French, le soleil.  “Le” and not “La”.  Why didn’t the French make the word feminine in gender?  So very radiant and nurturing.  The ultimate giver of life.  The quintessential mother of our universe.  Earth’s glowing goddess.  It’s rays our lifeline.  It’s energy our life source.  Without sunlight, every single living thing on this planet dies.  Even if I am incapable of using sunlight to synthesize my food, I have come to see myself in plants lately.  Hiding and even withering in the dark.  Constantly seeking the slightest hint of luminosity.  I started light therapy last winter in an attempt to resuscitate myself back to life during the dark season.  My own version of a human greenhouse.  Now that the stronger spring sun has arrived, the need to expose myself to artificial light has certainly diminished.  When I can’t see or feel the sun’s rays, I must remind myself that it’s still up there.  Still shining even when hidden behind the thick cloud cover.  After a cold, dark and dreary last week, we were gifted with three days of weekend sun.  Which materialized into three days of riding bikes.  Solo road rides on Friday and Sunday on the Giant Defy.  Quiet country roads highlighted by star studded weathered garages and old barns.  Sacred rides, the bread sandwiching an urban exploration outing on Saturday with my best friend on our BMX cruisers hitting every single BMX skatepark in town.  A three day mini staycation under these deep blue skies.  Almost 9 hours of pedaling in 3 days.  A huge leap in mileage after almost a full month of very limited riding.  I was certainly feeling it Monday morning.  Or it may simply be the lack of sunlight as we entered another stretch of cold, dark and dreary weather.  Spring is here, mixing things up, making us feel impatient.  But summer is definitely coming.  It’s just covered by this temporary thick cloud cover.



Thursday, April 8, 2021

Unimpressionable



Unimpressionable.  I’m past the point in my life where I can really impress anyone with my riding.  Strava KOMs are beyond my grasp.  The numbers that I can generate will never be as high as they were 10 or 20 years ago.  On a global level, whatever I can do on a bike from now on is at best impressive “for my age”.  At 52.5 years old, my physical prime days are long gone.  Now don’t get me wrong, this fact doesn’t make me sad.  Quite the contrary.  It’s actually liberating.  It’s now all just about the ride experience.  Me riding for me.  In so many ways I don’t fit the typical cyclist mold.  I don’t live by the numbers.  I don’t care about getting faster.  I ride simply because I love riding.  My focus isn’t on increasing my wattage.  If anything, my focus is on becoming a better rider.  Smoother.  Safer.  Endlessly polishing my skills.  Strengthening the foundation on which I learned to ride a bike a lifetime ago.  Balance.  Stability.  Connection.  Paying attention to the subtle shifts in weight distribution that help my tires stick to the ground below like Velcro.  Sustainable cycling.  At the end of the day, being able to continue to ride longer as I get older is more important to me than riding faster.  Precision above power.  Buttery smooth above blissfully fast.  My reason for riding isn’t to become the best.  It’s more about the experience and less about the outcome.  And even if the outcome may not necessarily be impressive, my hope is that it’s relatable and inspiring.  Unimpressionable. 
 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Shoulder Season


This shoulder season.
  I haven’t been getting out on the bike much these last few weeks.  No guilt.   No regret.  I mean, I’m not training or getting ready for anything.  Crappy weather and a sprained ankle last week have kept me on my couch more than on my saddle.  My foot is better now, but it also made me realize that my body is asking for rest.  Telling me to lay low.  Craving more yoga, more meditation.  Maybe it knows that spring and summer are just around the corner and it understands that it needs to get ready for the usual riding ramp up ahead?  That’s one of the ways that I’m changing as I get older.  I embrace the melancholy more.  I don’t fight the fatigue like I used to.  I feel more attuned to nature’s cyclical rhythm.  Periods of thriving interspersed between periods of sluggishness.  All completely normal.  We suffer when we expect to be on the top of our game all the time.  Learning to slow down purposefully between efforts is an sign of maturity.  I’m in no rush to get my cycling legs back.  Completely comfortable with this very unhurried start.  When I raced, this time of the year was filled with anxiety and panic as I wanted so bad to be fully ready for the fast approaching race season.  Now that I no longer compete, there is no more deadline for things to fall into place.  I finally got out this week.  Ankle feels much better.  Snow is almost all gone.  Even if I’m in no rush, I’m ready for this shoulder season to flourish into a new spring.  Happy Easter long weekend everyone !