Animals in the wild. Have you ever noticed? They seem to run, swim or fly as fast as they physically can only when their life depends on it. Maximal effort sprints seemingly only unleashed when they’re hunting for food or attempting to escape a predator. The rest of the time, it’s all about energy conservation. Intuitively working as little as possible to get by. Part of it I guess is that they don’t know when their next meal will be, so they don’t want to waste precious energy in case they won’t be eating for a while. It’s not something that they learn. They’re just born knowing. Their natural way of being. Thinking about this made me realize that my riding has evolved in this same direction as I age. I haven’t done a hard ride effort in 5 years now. No intervals. No intensity. I don’t need to. I don’t want to. I guess my life doesn’t depend on it anymore. Well, except for that time last summer when I was chased by that dog in Dorchester Cape. Fight or flight. I chose flight. I never have a hard time finding motivation to ride. Ever. Maybe one reason is because my riding has become so very simple now. Just get out and pedal at my own pace. Willpower can only carry us so far. That’s why the majority of dieters regain their lost weight within one to five years. It’s not a matter of forcing myself to do it even if I don’t feel like it. It’s a matter of allowing myself to be fueled by passion and self-love rather than by fear and guilt. It’s a matter of redefining sustainable fitness. It’s a matter of relearning how to ride a bike like when I was a kid. The purity and freedom of being moved by a simple pedal stroke. Start where you are. One ride. Finish before you’re completely spent. Rest. Repeat. Simple is sustainable. Keep it simple.
Thursday, June 17, 2021
Sometimes I ride slow. And sometimes I ride slower. The Canadian province that I live in just hit its 75% vaccination target as I write this. Three quarters of eligible New Brunswickers aged over 12 have now received their first dose of the Covid vaccine. Is this finally the beginning of the end? A feeling akin to tearing off our masks the second we cross public doorways and step outside. Uninhibited air flow. The most basic and natural part of being alive, instantly feeling so very brand new. A newborn’s very first breath all over again. I am excited to see things reopen, for things to go back to how they were, to get on with our lives. The expiration of this plague. Less worry. Less paranoia. Less sickness. Less death. Estranged family members finally able to reunite. Society becoming social again. But, if I’m completely honest, there is a part of me that can’t help but be sad as things begin to ramp up. The pandemic simplicity. Settled at home. Nowhere to go. Not much that we could do. Back to basics. Not thinking about travel since it wasn’t an option. An uncomplicated existence of sorts in our little bubble. It may be a mid-life age thing but this past year, working from home and with all the restrictions, I feel like my body has finally started to physically recover from a lifetime of rushing. The rat race. Caught up in society’s relentless brisk pace, I had never realized how existentially exhausted I had become. This whole ordeal teaching me that living slower is simply what suits me best. Life is short. Why do we get caught up in racing through it? Shouldn’t the whole point be to extend our time here? To slow things down? To prolong our days instead of sprinting through them? Sometimes I ride slow. And sometimes I ride slower.
Thursday, June 10, 2021
Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. We are born from the soil. And we will one day all return to this same soil. The molecules that make up our bodies coming from the very dirt that we walk and ride on. Maybe that’s why I’m so attracted to it? It’s a part of me. I’m a part of it. One. This dirt. The very first mountain bike that I rode was back in 1987. Steel frame. Fully rigid. Canti brakes. Ridiculously wide gearing range. Back when I was completely consumed by BMX. A time when I wasn’t yet drawn to the new emerging MTB movement. Four years later, in 1991, done with 20” wheel bikes, I purchased my very first mountain bike. Aluminum frame. Fully rigid. Canti brakes. Triple ring crankset in the front. 7 cogs in the back. STI shifters. That bike re-awakened the explorer inside of me. Through the woods, on this dirt, those fat tires carried me. Now, 30 years later, still exploring on my mountain bike, a new whip rekindling my love affair with this dirt. As I throw my leg over this new Giant Trance Advanced Pro 1, I can’t help but think of how far we’ve come, how far all this technology has carried us over the last 30 years. 29 inch wheels. Front and rear suspension. Full composite frame. 1x12 gearing. Dropper post. As mountain biking evolves towards more jumps, pump tracks and landscaped trails, I feel my connection to this dirt that is part of me run deeper. A certain regression in my riding style. The young boy carving this same dirt on his BMX reborn. Familiar. The only thing that has changed is the technology of the tool. Even if my riding style is much more conservative as I get older, my new bike seems to be able to handle all that I can throw at it. Playful. Balanced. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Here. Now. This dirt.
Friday, June 4, 2021
“Trauma is not what happens to you. Trauma is what happens inside you, as a result of what happens to you.” — Dr. Gabor Maté I’ve been seeing a psychologist for a few years now. When I was younger, I didn’t really believe in this kind of therapy. I mean, how can simply talking about our problems make them go away. Slowly, I began to open and understand that the only way to reprogram these old foundational thought patterns is by first understanding them. Why am I so obsessed with control? Why am I terrified of letting my guard down? Beliefs and behaviors molded by certain experiences that I have lived through in the past. Experiences that triggered very unpleasant feelings that got stuck inside of me. Behaviors that my mind came up with as a means to protect me to ensure my survival. Trauma. So simple. So common. So very crippling. Like the layers of an onion, all we can do is start peeling. Dig deep. Go back to try to understand what we couldn’t at the time. At the end of every single psychology session I feel lighter. My shoulders less sloped. My head higher. Something about the weight of my pain leaving my body with my spoken words. An ongoing process. The work of a lifetime. Sunday was cool and cloudy. But I had an appointment with my other therapist. My Giant Revolt. Just me and my bike. Over 3.5 hours of crushing gravel through the city parks. Inner spaciousness. Much lighter. Something about the weight of my pain leaving my body with my turning pedals.