Posting here at the RKP World HQ has been off for the last week and for that I apologize. Between the travel, preparations, the actual riding and then the interior destruction of this particular verb herder, well, I’ve left you a little in the dark, not unlike the dark I was riding in Saturday night.
Were I to try to sum up my experience with Dirty Kanza with a single word, I’d roll with immense. The landscape is immense. The distance is immense. The preparation, the planning and the challenge itself, all immense. And the psychological and emotional impact could easily be downplayed, which is why it’s good to stick with a word like immense.
Dirty Kanza will occupy my thoughts and my writing for some time to come. Rather than try to capture the whole of the experience in a single post, I’m going to build a more composite portrait, much like David Hockney’s composites, that were nearly cubist in their multitude of perspective. Honestly, there’s no way I could say everything I want to express in a single post.
The image above should be familiar enough to you in theme and composition, and I suppose in subject as well. Salsa’s Chase the Chaise is, in my humble estimation, everything that’s right about cycling in general and with gravel riding in specific. It’s memorable. It’s playful. And it’s irreverent. For me, cycling has always been about play, about not taking myself too seriously—even though I have been prone to do that. These portraits are nothing so much as an inspiration to engage the world on your terms. It’s the school portrait, but without the administration demanding that boys wear ties and girls wear dresses. Wear what you want. Sit (or not) where you want. Pose how you want. Include what you want.
It’s not just an invitation to show yourself, but it’s a request to open yourself to the world. Tell us who you are.
And who are you? Well there are few occasions presenting a better opportunity for insight into that than a dozen or so miles from the finish of a 200-mile race. After being on the bike for at least 12 hours, no matter who you are, some of the traditional filters, that internal editor who tells you, “Sit up straight; don’t put your feet on the furniture!” just disappear. It might be more accurate to say the id tells them to get lost. A friend asked me what pose I’d do when I got to the chaise and I realized that as much as I wanted to sit for the portrait, I had no idea what I’d do, or even how zany I wanted to get. My pose was what came to me on the spot, and in looking at it now, I see contentment and satisfaction, and maybe a little dollop of bliss, too.
It’s just the sort of message I’d want to send the world about what cycling means to me, if I stopped to think about it.
Image: the ever-awesome Salsa Cycles #chasethechaise