Friday Group Ride #460

Friday Group Ride #460

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?

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  1. Jim

    Long distance bike touring has been on my radar for a long time but with kids and a job, that has not been an option. I’m finally jumping into a week long tour in a few days and looking forward to the new challenge.

  2. Michael

    I love to see new places from a bike seat, nearly always alone. I bring my bike with me when I travel for work and tack on a few days, sometimes in places I never imagined cycling, but they turn out to be wonderful, or sometimes not. I also ride the trails and roads of my home area just to be be outside and moving. I guess that is really all I want from the bike – joy.

  3. Quentin

    I ride for adventure and spending time outdoors. Racing once mattered to me, but not so much now aside from the local gravel race I do every year. I could get the adventure and outdoors in other ways, I suppose, but my knees don’t love running, and the faster speeds of cycling allow for more variety. Most of my riding is alone. I like a certain amount of solo riding, but would prefer my riding to be more social than it currently is. Alas, the group rides seem to have a high schedule overlap with youth soccer and other parenting duties. That is not a permanent state of affairs, and I hope within a few years to be joining more group rides.

  4. rides in-be

    What are you looking for from your cycling life? Joy and freedom of movement, self knowledge and friendship, connection to the glory of creation. And I have found a ton. More than I expected. That is because about half of what I do is social and half is meditative, solo, battery charging time. And almost all the measuring is against myself but in relation to the people I ride with who are all stronger than I am.

  5. Jeff vdD

    I’ve already found what my cycling life has to offer. AND there’s more out there to be found. In my dozen years of serious riding, I’ve shifted from long paved rides to shorter dirt ones and have been exceedingly happy with both. Cycling in both of these forms has and continues to variously provide me adventure and community and solitude. Whether comparing myself to others in a ‘cross race or to my prior self’s gravel climb PRs, I love looking for performance and am always rewarded whatever the result.

  6. Parker English

    After 54 years of somewhat steady touring and recreational cycling, my meditative/performance/social results are reasonably satisfying. This involves performance that’s less than hardcore, but it’s all I’ve wanted it to be. At this stage of life, the issue is remaining this way while contending with a body that knows it’s getting weaker. This’s different from equaling or setting personal bests by cycling at a reasonably satisfying pace.

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