I’ve been on vacation, although this summer I did that weird thing where you just stay home and don’t go to work. A staycation. I didn’t have high hopes for it, but it has actually been pretty great. Not having to travel and deal with a bunch of logistics, has freed my mind a bit, in ways I didn’t expect. When do you ever just get to live in your home?
Of course, being in the bike business, there is never a great time to take a vacation, so I did open my week out of the office with three days at NEMBAfest at Kingdom Trails in Vermont. That too was mind-opening in ways I didn’t expect. It is humbling and inspiring to see the stream of humanity that flocks to cycling, the unwashed masses in all their glory.
Working a festival like that gets grueling. You’re standing in a tent in a field all day talking, prepping bikes for demo, talking some more. Then, at the end of the day, when you’re just about completely washed out, you get to ride yourself, and it is amazing, a full palate cleanse.
I got to thinking about cycling, how good it is, what I get from it, what’s still out there, and I had that calming thought that vacation sometimes brings, which is, I don’t need anything from cycling. I like to ride with friends, sometimes short rides, like at the end of the day at a mountain bike festival, or longer rides, on a lazy Saturday when you don’t have anywhere to be.
I might sign up for a race or two, but I won’t need to race. Those are just pretexts to train and ride with friends. I don’t need the exploits to justify my cycling existence. I don’t need to prove anything else to myself. But sometimes you have to race to train, you know what I mean?
In the meantime, I find out I’ve been friends with Padraig for ten years, and I’ve been doing this weekly piece for almost nine. How about that?
This week’s Group Ride asks, what are you looking for from your cycling life? Have you found it already? Or is there more out there? How much of what you do on the bike is social? How much is meditative? And how much is aimed at performance, which I think of as simply measuring yourself against yourself?