A very good friend of mine is Very Sick. The kind that makes you sit back and take a look at the world through a totally different set of eyes. To say this past week has been one of introspection would be an understatement, but it has made me look at the things I say and do and think about what they mean to me.
I’ve spent my morning rides looking back at the past and wondering how I got where I am today. Riding bikes and then writing words for others to read. Despite never setting out to get here. Sort of like one of those rides where you head off one way before you get distracted by a sliver of dirt, and head off that way.
Sometimes people like the words we write, and they smile. Sometimes they hate them, and they rant. Mostly that’s the whole point. It’s good to challenge people’s preconceptions of biking and all that comes with it. It’s not that we don’t love the thing you love, it’s just that we love it differently.
This friend is the reason I do this – write about bikes – although I realise this isn’t mostly about bikes, but I’ll get to that. This friend is also the reason I think about words and how they effect people, myself included. This friend is also the reason I now stop during rides when I see something interesting, when previously I’d have rode past, focused on my wattage or heart rate, the ‘important thing’ that was governing my ride. Not enjoyment, but an arbitrary set of guidelines I’d been set for how the ride should progress. Ironically, guidelines I’d set for myself.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to get out on a ride and totally hammer yourself. It may only be for 30 minutes, or 3 hours, but that feeling of going deep and escaping from it all is like sugar-coated crack dipped in speed for most cyclists. There is something sublime about causing yourself to hurt, then being able to turn it off. But what if you can’t? What if that is all there is? How do you ride to turn that around?
Well, what about just stopping? Not stopping riding altogether, that’d just be stupid, what about stopping on a ride and looking – not glancing – but looking at what is around you? It could be a desolate side road in Mid Wales, it could be an urban jungle in Manchester, or it could be that beautiful new sliver of dirt you rode down earlier. Either way, you’re there now, and other people can’t be. So take it, use that as your antidote to what ever gnaws away at your self – stop, clip out, look around, wait.
Eventually you won’t be able to do it. So you may as well do it while you can.
Beer of the Week
Saltaire Brewery Cascade Pale Ale
“American style pale ale with the floral aromas and strong bitterness of Cascade and Centennial hops.” (4.8 % ABV)
When in doubt, stick with what you know. Frankly, this goes for pretty much anything that comes out of the Saltaire Brewery. The Cascade Pale Ale may have been one of many in the line of ‘trendy’ American-style hopped ales to come out in the past few years. But it’s one of the best.
Photo by Jenn Hill