First a little background on me. I haven’t stopped riding my bike since I learned to ride when I was four years old. I love everything about riding. Riding can take you up and down the driveway and around the world, with a ton of fun in between. I fall somewhere in between.
I am 37; I have some serious miles in the saddle. For the most part I ride cross country and always have. I have a dozen races behind me and dozen more ahead. Riding has an amazing dynamic, it is a true individual sport but also very team (group) oriented.
I recently entered in a blackmail situation with my wife. I was in NEED of a new bike. She agreed to let the funding happen if I agree to only ask or plan to ride one day a week, Sunday. Done deal.
So Sundays are the day I wait for all week, and the day I replay all week in my head. I have settled into a great riding groove. I ride with the same three guys most weeks. We are a great group. Mike and I have been riding together since the early ninety’s, Art is Mike’s neighbor. Art just turned sixty-five; he has only been riding a few years. He is an amazing athlete. Jim is Art’s son; Jim and I are about the same age, that’s about all we have in common. Jim is the smoothest cat on the trail. He has a very high skill set that is amazing to watch.
We all complement each other in some way. We help pick lines and we all help Mike after he has gone over the bars again. Together we have maintained a ten mile loop of trails and built a mile of new trails. We always enjoy that time on Sunday.
Now and again everyone has something to do so our Sunday ride is on hold for a week. So, I decided to take those days and explore different towns and parks. Living in New England there are no shortages of finding a place to ride that you can call your new favorite trail. So in the last few years I have done this every chance I can.
Now on different occasions I have gone out on my own with no plan to ride with a particular group but I always seem to find a group to ride with when I show up in the parking lot before a ride. I always let the group head out and I take up the tail end. That’s the best way to feel out a groups pace and skill level. After everyone has warmed up and cleaned out the Saturday night cobwebs you can figure out where you fit in the group. It always seems that every group has a point that they stop and play somewhere. This is a great time to find out who you are riding with. “Hey what do you do for work?”, “Where are you from?”,” How long have you guys been riding together?” and “Do you guys ride here every Sunday?”. The last question is key. By asking this question you can set yourself up for a ton of great responses. But the response I get more times than any other and I am truly blown away when complete strangers respond this way. “We are here every Sunday, this is our religion.” I don’t care who you are, that is a pure passion statement if I have ever heard one. I know I shouldn’t be too surprised; it’s exactly how I have felt about riding for a very long time. It’s amazing to hear a stranger share the same feelings that are so hard to describe to someone who doesn’t ride. Like my wife, I have made videos to show her how it feels to be out in the woods riding. She thinks I do it for the exercise or to get away from her and the kids. Guys at work laugh because I ride my bicycle, instead of going golfing. Why is it so hard to describe what riding is all about? Tara Llanes broke her back and is working hard every day to walk again, but what she would tell us is that she is working hard every day so some day she can go for a ride. She is amazing.
I have and had other interests; cars, running, computers and motorcycles. Nothing, except my motorcycle comes close to hooking me. And it wasn’t that close.
We all know there’s no magic to what we do, magic isn’t what gives us the ability to climb a hill or get up and over a thirty inch high log. That’s skill and experience; but there are those moments when we watch someone do something with less skill and you have to rethink everything. The madness, I love it! Pure satisfaction can consume me for days with having a great ride or by simply getting through a section I never have before with any dabs. Getting over a rock or log that I have no business getting over. Maybe it’s blasting a downhill faster than I ever have before. It’s like a drug, leaving you smiling for days. How can I go to work with all the other computer geeks and explain how cool it was to kill a downhill and clean a nasty rock garden? If I told them I burned some serious calories riding they would understand that. What they wouldn’t understand is how awesome a beer is after a killer ride.
Everyone I come across all agrees, most people don’t understand what we do or why we do it. The Collective movies are great to show people but that doesn’t seem to be enough. So, I will continue to tell stories to my wife, family and non-riding friends. Take pictures and videos as long as the batteries allow me to. And clean my chain on Saturday night for my Sunday ride where ever it may be. It’s like getting your cloths ready for church in the morning.
It’s raining tonight so it will be muddy on the trail in the morning. If I were religious, God lives in heaven and rain comes from the heavens. When it rains on the trails we ride on does it make holy mud? I hope so, that’s the only way I will ever get baptized.
You could fill a book with great quotes that revolve around riding; I will end with this one.
“A bad day of riding is still a great day.”