It’s the dead of winter and as I type the wind is howling and snowflakes are bumping up against my window. It’s sub-zero temperatures and my bones ache from cold and all the while I’m seriously jonesing to get on my bike. I’ve lost all touch with my biking buddies, I don’t remember the last time I’ve stepped foot in a bicycle shop and I’m starting to feel lonely.
Bicycling is more than just about being on the bike. It’s about the entire culture that goes with it. It’s a way of living. It’s a part of who you are.
The Bike(s). They are extensions of you. Each bike holds a special place and has a special relationship with you. Your first bike, your road bike, your downhill bike, your ‘get over anything’ bike…doesn’t matter. This bike defines and expresses who you are and what you’ve accomplished. Each scratch, each mud mark, each wear on the cog has a story. It’s more than just a machine. You and the bike work together and finish rides together. It’s with you when you struggle, there to blame when you fail, and there to stand tall in the picture as evidence of surviving that epic ride.
The ‘Flow.’ What is so addicting about biking is that rhythmic, exhilarating, flying through the air state of ‘flow’ that is created when your feet start moving in that familiar circular motion. The tingling in my arms, the stretch of my lips as I break into a grin (or grimace), the burn in my legs, and the air in my lungs are all incredibly present when I’m on my bike. Fear, pride, excitement, accomplishment, FUN…I want to stand up and give a “WOOHOO!!!!” just thinking about it.
The Bicycle Shop. We all have our favorite. The place where everyone knows your name and the mechanic can tell you the entire repair history on your road bike, mountain bike, and single speed in less than 30 seconds. It’s where you meet pre-ride, where you run in to change your clothes…your home away from home. You can come in muddy, bloody, loud, laughing, or crying…you’ll get the same raucous welcome. Somehow, this cozy, supportive home is abandoned when your bicycles sit in the corner of your living room, ignored.
The Peeps. Recently, Sh*t fill in the blank videos have been going viral. Shi*t Mountain Bikers Say and Sh*t Bicyclists Say made me laugh so hard I think I really did give a little pee down there. Roadies take themselves too seriously (and get made fun of by mountain bikers) and mountain bikers don’t take anything seriously (and thus are completely crazy). The truth is, eventually, the roadies sneak over to the other side (the funner side…) and the mountain bikers begrudgingly slide over to the ‘dark side.’ In the end, we’re all bikers which makes us all part of the big happy family. When you challenge yourself, work hard to accomplish something, and physically make it through…you all come out supporting each other and respecting each other. We bike for the love of biking. We bike because we don’t know how else we would live. There are key people in every community that are involved in building, supporting, loving, and participating in the bicycling communities around the world that make it possible for the rest of us to come together. They keep the trails open, create the community events, raise the money, raise the awareness, and advocate for a better tomorrow.
The trails. If there were more non-car paved trails in this country, I would be able to say, “I love road trails!” but there aren’t. I will say, “I would love to ride road trails!” but it’s not in the cards for where I live right now. But really, my heart lies in the woods. I love dirt trails. I love twisty, windy smooth singletrack. I love gnarly, rooted, rocky downhill. I even love when I sailed over my handlebars and slammed into that tree in Vermont. I love the smells, the colors, the sounds…I love being in the forest and riding as fast as I can on my bike. I have my favorite trails, my secret trails, my group ride trails, trails on my wishlist, trails for breakfast, trails for lunch…
My bike is me. I am my bike.