Wow! My last post huh? Boy, it really ruffled some feathers. I was going to write a softer, more apologetic post addressing what was written in the last post. But you know what? I’m not going to. It was just my opinion people. It’s not etched in stone. And I wasn’t trying to be an asshole when I wrote it (although that sometimes just happens). But in my defense, I don’t think I was being an asshole this time. So everybody can just relax. I want to remind you that nobody has the right to NOT be offended. Now go on, ride your bike and relax.
There, that’s done. Let’s get on with it.
Touring and bike-packing.
I have been noticing an upswing in popularity concerning these two sub categories of cycling lately. Either that or I have taken an interest in it and now that is all I am noticing…ya know what I’m talking about, right? It happens a lot. Like, when you are shopping for a new car and find one you like and then all of a sudden the new car you like is everywhere. You know?
Anyway, I want to start touring by bicycle. Or more realistically for me and my schedule right now…ride some where far and camp and then ride back….all within a weekend. I want to do this so bad. I mean I feel like I need to do this. I seriously feel like this next chapter in cycling adventure is calling me. It’s kinda been an obsession of mine for about six to eight months. But I have been having a hard time getting on with it which is not like me. Usually, if I want something, or want to do/try something I just do it. And do it all the way. But this? I don’t know…I can’t take that first real step. Not really sure where to start.
OK, hold on a second, I guess I actually have kinda started. I have been taking baby steps I guess. Although nothing of real substance like researching places to pedal to or looking at camp sites or even looking at camping gear. I have just been staying in my comfort zone by changing some stuff around on one of my current favorite bicycles…I guess I’m doing this in hopes that it would motivate me further…you know, motivate me to take some real steps towards this new adventure.
But here’s the deal. I think that maybe the reason I am lollygagging on really going forward is that I am scared. Plain and simple.
But at the same time I feel ready to make the jump. Scared as I may be, I feel that I am ready. And I also think that I can put a finger on what this hesitance I’ve been “suffering” from might be. It’s this: I need to be ready to commit to riding a bike like I am not racing it. To be ready to ride longer slower rides with a loaded (not lighter) bike. And I need to change my way of thinking and build up a bike based strictly on comfort that can handle a load. Which means a more upright position and beefier components.
What!? Heavier? Slower? More Upright!!!??
Blaspheme you say!!
Wait. Why is this so hard for me to swallow? A more upright position, big deal, right? Right. But it is…or seems to be. I feel like I am leaving something dear to me behind. Or not being faithful to the kind of cyclist I have been for so long. It’s a strange feeling. Almost like if I commit to this new type of cycling that there’s no turning back. And I know that’s silly. But it feels like I am giving up something, like I will be taken less seriously by fellow cyclists if I am not rolling around on a bike that has some resemblance to a race bike. Now hold the phone. If you know me, I am not one that generally gives a shit about what others think about me or what others think about the bikes I ride. And please don’t mistake me, I still don’t. But my irrational fear of this new (to me) type of cycling or my need to wander more and go fast less…or whatever it is, it is keeping me from jumping in with both feet.
I have been “spit-balling” and thinking out loud for this entire post…But here is another thing to think about when it comes to my fear to move 100% forward on this…
The good ol’ bike industry.
That’s right. The bike industry and it’s related media. It’s their incessant need to convince us all that if we aren’t on a really expensive, light weight, team replica bicycle with racing geometry (be it mountain or road) that we are not serious cyclists? And that being said. I’ve been there and I’ve done the training ride, fast, “what’s your heart rate/cadence bro,” interval/climbing/rest day bullshit and I am tired of riding with that state of mind. I did it for a really long time. Hell, there was a point where no ride felt like a recreational ride…which now seems sad to me. They were rides where I was always trying to beat my previous time or silently “race” with others in a group ride…or even “race” strangers. But I wasn’t getting paid to ride my bike, so in my opinion, they should’ve all been considered recreational rides and not taken so seriously by me. You get what I’m saying? I was riding my bike like I was making a living at it. And I sure as shit wasn’t. In fact, if you want to know the truth, that type of riding actually burned me out. Burned me out. Maybe not you, but me. And please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I see zero value in riding light weight race bikes really fast as much as you want to. I’m just saying for me, I don’t want to spend all of my time on two wheels like that anymore.
OK, beating a dead horse I am.
Wait…did Yoda just write that?
So in closing, I have recently started converting a disc brake equipped cyclocross bike into a tourer. And it has quickly become the bike I find myself wanting to ride all of the time. I’m serious, it actually pulls me to it when I see it in my garage…tugging at me to ride it. Don’t laugh, but sometimes I just stand there and stare at it. It’s a real beautiful example of both gorgeous aesthetics and wonderful function/versatility. It really has become the most ridden bicycle that I own at the moment over both my mountain bike and road bike. I have actually called in sick from work twice in the last six months to just ride long miles on it. And let me tell you, those were some glorious “hooky” days.
So, I guess after all of my rambling on this post, I have actually worked through some stuff. Like despite my fear of change and my fear of doing something out of my comfort zone, I am going forward with this change in my cycling attitude and riding style. It feels right to me. And I will continue to love what makes me happiest. Right now that bike I started converting is making me very happy. I will stop feeling guilty that I am not riding at some “respectable” average speed or riding in some irrelevant threshold. My only motivation to ride lately and for now, will continue to be…to see what I’ve never seen on a bike before, to revel in the actual ride, to go where I’ve never gone on a bicycle, to take my car less, to remember the scenery on my ride, to document my rides and to do things on, by and with my bicycle that can inspire others to do it with me.
I am ready for this next adventure.
Thanks for reading.