I’m a little torn. On the one hand I think it’s great that we formally recognize the fun and adventure of cycling by encouraging people to get out on two wheels for thirty consecutive days. On the other, I’m a bit sad that we have to explicitly say such a thing in the first place.
One curiosity I’ve noted of late is the crop of blog and magazine articles providing the detailed reasoning and rationale for cycling. I’ve even found myself pounding out such missives. I wonder why that is. I wonder why we need a reason to do something enjoyable. I don’t require a reason to laugh when a thing is funny, nor do I rationalize reading a good book, or savoring an excellent wine. Isn’t it odd that we find ourselves justifying to others why we ride?
“Oh, do you race?”
No, actually I have never had much interest in being a racer.
“Yeah, I hear bicycling is really great exercise.”
Yes, I suppose it is. At one time that aspect was pretty important to me. I don’t think about it much any more though.
“You must do a lot of charity rides, huh?”
No, not particularly.
“Those club group club rides look like a lot of fun.”
I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been on one.
“Well then you must be one of those touring or rando guys, right?”
I don’t ride permanents or brevets. I just ride.
People find cycling to be one of those activities that must somehow be categorized, that you (or they), as a rider, must be classified in some way. I suppose if I really must pigeonhole my reasons for riding, it would come down to the experience and the stories. The experience is enjoyable, otherwise I simply wouldn’t bother. And I’ve come to understand that if a thing doesn’t have a story, then there is little to hold my interest – and thus, little chance I will continue to engage.
I’ve tried to explain my predilection for finding and sharing “the story” to others in the past, and have done so inadequately. I know that when I engage in conversation of any kind, I seldom do so with simple “yes” and “no” responses. It’s much more interesting to me when there is an interesting anecdote to accompany a dialogue – because otherwise, isn’t the conversation just simple reporting of facts? How interesting is that?
Here’s an example: Last weekend, I rode back up to Smithville Lake. I left the house on a whim, headed north with no real destination in mind, and wound up riding some of the path that hugs one side of the shoreline. After a few hours I wound up circling back and heading home.
That, purely and simply communicates the salient facts of my Saturday morning and afternoon. But it’s the small moments that are most memorable: the smells of blossoming flowers, the brutality of the wind coming off the lake, the sudden panic at discovering my frame pump had gotten left at home. Small moments that are worth sharing – for instance, I had to laugh when I rode back out up to the lake this past Saturday morning. As I left the trail to head back home, I crossed a parking area at the trail head. A group of four were getting out of a pickup truck laden with four old bikes stacked up like cord wood. Donning helmets and sitting astride their bikes, they prepared to head out into the wilderness (well, as wild as a paved path can be, I suppose.) Suddenly, one of the women let out a banshee-like wail that stilled the bird song filling the air. For a moment I wondered if she had somehow hurt herself – she sounded as though a body part had been pierced, her agony was so palpable. Everyone in the parking lot looked her way as she cried out, “OMIGAAAAAAWWWWWWD!!!! I left all my cigarettes at home!!!”
Do I really need a reason for riding my bike every day?
Nope. Not as long as I get to experience moments like these. It’s the small things, see.