Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Pedaling Longevity Project




For the longest time now, riding has been my medicine.  For so many years, I used it as an analgesic.  A coping mechanism enabling me to numb the pain from underlying past trauma.  A very effective method.  Riding to forget.  It worked for years.  Even if it was but a masking remedy that only provided temporary relief.  Today, my riding has changed.  I’ve changed.  Less avoiding.  More feeling.  Riding to remember.  To heal what I am struggling to feel.  To help me make a bit of sense of the senseless.  Closer to these emotions.  No longer trying to escape them.  My bikes guiding me back to my true self.  I’ve come to a point where I no longer have any use for competition anymore.  I’ve come to despise it actually.  It just seems to rob me of too much happiness.  There simply is nothing left to prove.  I am already enough.  Fast enough.  Strong enough.  Goal setting and signing up for challenging events are not what motivate me to keep pedaling.  My reasons are intrinsic.  No longer about improving.  Simply about enjoying.  The only intention or goal that I currently have in regards to bikes is to be able to ride as long as physically possible.  Not faster.  Not farther.  Just to keep spinning these pedals.  In this happy medium space at this unhurried pace called sustainability.  I call it my personal ‘Pedaling Longevity Project’.

 

Friday, May 27, 2022

Changing my mind about change





I don’t remember who said it.  And I don’t remember the exact wording.  But I do remember reading that working on oneself is mainly about learning how to let go of wanting things or people to change.  Change.  We’re most often either impatiently waiting for it or dreading it.  We’ve been blessed with warm beautiful days these last few weeks.  With some wet cool days in between.  I’ve been riding almost daily.  Mostly gravel with some road.  Groad is what I think they call it .  With some BMX in between.  This sunny weather after all the rain earlier this month has left these forests vibrantly buzzing.  So very pregnant.  Birthing fresh leaves.  Reawakening.  These creatures of light.  Constantly changing.  If I’m honest, I must admit that I had been restlessly waiting for these natural changes for a few months now.  The emergence of this spring season sprinkled with glimpses of summer.  Empowered by these changes as they change me.  Energized by this strengthening sun.  Back to life.  Following its lead.  Sleeping when it sets.  Waking when it rises.  My ideal rhythm.  Even if most of my rides are local, around these same roads, they’re still never the same.  Outside is never stagnant.  Constantly changing.  Eloquently evolving.  A brand new ride every single time.  The art of riding these bikes.  Irrelevant path.  Irrelevant goal.  No right or wrong direction.  Just flowing movement.  The faster I hurry, the slower I go.  Everything just keeps changing. 

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.