5 Random Things I’ve Learned Riding My Bike

June 28, 2017

1) The greater the disparity between passing rider and the rider being passed, the nicer the passing rider will be.

What I’ve learned? No one with a degree of competitiveness likes to be passed. By anyone. Getting out of the way happens a lot in mountain bike events, where the trails are narrow and everyone is on-course at once. When elite racers weave around me like the pylon that I am to them, they are always super nice about it. They usually say something like, “Whenever you have a chance” or “Just coming up on your right”.  And I just move over. They know they’re passing. I know they’re passing. Everyone knows they’re passing. So let’s just make this happen. Now, totally different story if the skill and fitness level are a little closer to parity – then it gets a bit more frosty. And, if you’re in the same racing category, with close to the same fitness, and especially if you know each other, then woah man, it’s a battle. That’s the game, of course. Fight for 15th. Or 16th. Or 65th. You know what I mean.

2) You can want something with every fiber of your being, but be completely powerless to have it. That day, anyway.

What I’ve learned? Ever tried to hold onto a stronger rider’s wheel in the wind, or up a gradual incline? At first you’re so close to that wheel that you’re rubbing tires. Then a millimeter of space forms. The millimeter becomes a centimeter. The centimeter a meter. The meter; minutes. Every cell in your body says ‘no’, but you watch that gap form, and then the wind comes in and that’s it. You don’t get to choose. Until next time.

3) It never gets easier, you just go faster.

What I’ve learned? Every single person doing a charity ride, like the Ride to Conquer Cancer, is riding their own individual time trial up Mount Ventoux. It hurts just as much to be in sweatpants on a Walmart Special as it does to be the pro on the carbon fibre team bike. Probably more. The pro just goes a lot faster. There’s something to be said about exposure to suffering, though, and you could argue that the pro is tougher because of prolonged time in that zone. And you’d be right, of course. They can deal better. However, if that’s the case, every person grinding it out on a 40 pound mountain bike is therefore that much more admirable for coping with it, ’cause it hurts them more than you.

4) When riding, there’s always a headwind.

What I’ve learned? Well, that there’s always a headwind. Of course, this could have some sort of double meaning and what I’m really, secretly, saying here is that hard work on a bike is like hard work in life, that the times that matter the most and the times that most define how you do are when it’s the hardest. Grit your teeth and push through in those times, and you’re good. But I’m not really saying that, I actually just meant that it’s always windy when you’re on your bike, for some reason. Like, it actually starts as soon as you decide to not go to the beach, and instead to ride. What’s up with that?

5) After riding, there’s always cake. Or beers. Or cake and beers.

What I’ve learned? It’s all about the cake and beers. Bikes, love, life, you name it. Cake and beers will keep you going.

Languid and liquid, easy like a summer day.

June 18, 2017

Woah, does this track ever have a nice summer vibe feeling.

Underground dance music continues to have a great emotion, despite the mainstream stuff becoming the anthem of an entire generation of spray-tanned, Red Bull halfwits, spastically off-time fist pumping into the air. I’m looking at you David Guetta.

I love the loose, languid, and liquid roll of it, flows easy like a gorgeous summer day.

The yellow-ed out filter on the camera gives the pictures a gentle nostalgic quality and you’ll never hear me complain about super talented girls long-boarding all over beach scenes. Nope, not once, not never, no, not me.

More, please.


A Nod from the God.

June 11, 2017

At this charity ride, before cycling got big, in 99 or something, a bunch of very famous pros came out to lead Calgary’s who’s who on a tour around K-country. There were only about 700 people there. The thing was led by Lance Armstrong, Eddy and Axel Merckx, and Steve Bauer. The guys I was riding it with agreed to meet up on the front if we got separated, and of course we did, so I remember hoping from group to group to get up there and I had settled in with this crew, and I looked over and thought, “ok, this guy’s super smooth, this is a good spot.” And it was Bauer.

Anyway, we get up front with Armstrong and every bike racer in Alberta that can hold the pace, prob 40 guys. Behind is everyone else. Then, about 40k into the 110k ride, Armstrong and crew duck out, taking a shortcut back, and of course every single dude goes with him. Except us. We paceline the remaining 70k, all out. Jordan was a CAT1 in the US. Bill was at least a 2, in the US as well, and I’m just trying not to let them down. I hang in there and we hammer this thing out. Like, 3 hours and a bit. FUCKING FLYING. 34/35k average. Just drooling. We were the first to finish the full distance.

And after we finished, the guys disappeared to find their families in the crush of people at the staging area, and I was calling my mom, who was out there floating around somewhere, with my girlfriend. I left her a message and found my way into the food hall where I grabbed a banana and a Coke, taking it outside to wait.

I remember sitting on this bench at this picnic table. I felt wasted but euphoric, the same way you always feel after riding at your limit like that. Eyes were bloodshot, face streaked with grit and sweat, hair matted down, a bird’s nest from the helmet.

I remember looking down at my feet and seeing the stark line on my ankles from where I had peeled my socks off to put some sandals on. I remember seeing my legs and feeling good about the fitness that I saw in them, noticing hard-working veins popped out and flushing gunk back to the heart for processing.

I remember sitting there thinking all this, enjoying the sugar of this chilled Coke and kind of feeling like a ‘real’ cyclist, and I looked up and, no word of a lie, there’s Eddy Fucking Merckx walking 3 feet by me. He’s showered and changed and also drinking a Coke. He has black hair shot through with grey, he is slim, around 60 years old now and still looks pretty intimidating and more than a little intense.

Our eyes meet and he glances down at my bare, bone white feet which are incongruously attached there at the end of my mid-summer-tanned ankles. He scans my legs, lifts his eyes back up and makes eye contact again. Then he nods at me. A slight, acknowledging tilt of the head.

I’m totally in awe but I slowly nod back and as I do there’s a ghost of a smile on the face of The God of Cycling as he continues on his way.