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Matt and I loaded up the bus and headed out to Highland MTB park up in NH for closing day. Highland is one of those places where you ride a chairlift up and a mountainbike down. They’ve made a big investment there- the lodge was built with timber logged and milled on site. They’ve easily put a million dollars over the years into trail building and maintenance, and Mark, the owner has easily put more than a quadrillion of his own dollars into the mountain over the 4 years it’s been open.
I take no pleasure in commuting, only satisfaction.
Before August I hadn’t ridden more than an hour and a half since March, hell I didn’t even have enough parts to build up anything other than my BMX bike.
When you are depressed and broke bike riding can feel like a real struggle.
Having the best riding in the country at your finger tips, or better yet riding straight through it every day without having the freedom to leave the beaten path is a bitch.
Bicycling blueballs aren’t worth it to me any more, so it’s a real bummer to look in the shop window too much, so to speak, and my mind has tricked me into believing that if I’m not going as fast as I used to that I suck and that it’s “just not worth it” to go riding just for fun, shits and giggles.
I spent the first half of the year snapping my bmx bike into corners in flat dirt parking lots, slap-chopping the hell out of things making big ruts, dust storms and skid marks. It was cathartic. Sprinting through the streets and launching curbs as made me realize that if I’m can get stoked I can find pleasure in unknown places. No bike is too small, the riding is just too big, at least when it comes to riding on the edge. College kids on 12″ wheels is firm proof of that.
Before I knew it I was comfortable enough on the bmx bike to shred around town for an hour and a half or so full-tilt boogie, sweat flying and head pounding-straight up fucking roosting through the corners, Shit man I was two wheel drifting corners and scraping my pedals through them at 20…
A real Fucking hoot and a half and all of a sudden i’d rediscovered bike riding.
I was good at something new, another novel, shradical boned-out discipline-all I had to do was realize that I was riding Bicycle Motocross. Tricks and jumps ain’t shit if you don’t have that sweet roost, that all bicycles really are the same.
It’s all from the hips, the center of the body, Newton said so, physical mass projection, completely subliminal.
I spent hours carving on flat ground, driving my hand down into the ground, following through with my hips and snapping my chest around to bring it all back over.
Bicycle longboarding, or something ike that.
Hardcore locomotion of a new type, hot-dog, I was stoked.
Shredding, Carving, Roosting and Railing all rolled up into one, with the bald tires to prove it. All killer, no filler, 100% Stoked. Sweet lord hallelujah.
Coming home from a ride on the street with gravel in your front pocket, sweat-soaked and stoked brought back some of those old feelings of “really” being a bike rider. The ability to find pleasure in the mundane, as scaled by wheel size and contact patch, riding flat out on any tool you are given isn’t a skill as much as it is a way of thinking.
Confidence isn’t the right word, and neither is ability. It’s the perfect balance between challenge and skill, or as sports psychology calls it, “flow”.
Being a bike rider, a real one, a pro, is a sacrifice. Bikes are too wicked a creature to be mastered by anyone less than a demi-god. Sports writers talk about “heroic efforts” and it’s true, real Pros are fucking heroes, big hulking men like Achilles with hollow hearts and brutal tendencies. Dudes who lash and flay and smash and stultify the minds and wills of the men they face. I’m not and never will be one of those guys, so I have to work harder to stop being a pussy.
The “Professional” title doesn’t just apply to salaried dudes with sunglass tans, it applies to those who perpetually seek flow, and that pretty much necessitates a specific lifestlye, one that elevates the sensations you get when riding to the top of the priority list. It’s a life of comfort and privilege, no doubt.
Once, I was on the cusp. I could taste the blood and believed in the glory of all the suffering.
The blood turned into bile and I turned bitter, yet I remained a true believer in the heroism of heros.
I now see myself as a hobbyist, and amateur, a doppelganger passing in the wind, not the “almost-one” anymore and not the “never-was” my self talk has often implied.
I’m hoping just to be the guy who is pretty good at riding bikes, is stoked and likes to shred.
I won’t be at all surprised that if I manage to find some courage, I’ll find more success than I’ve yet seen as a racer.
I still haven’t found the steel reserve to force the shoes on to my feet and go out and roost like I’m supposed to.
This is why they call the overlap of Heroic and Enthusiastic sensations as being “stoked”. You need to build the fire constantly until the steam moves the shaft with enough force to overcome friction, and the more stoked you get, the faster you can go.
So, um, yeah. I’ve got to go get stoked to get stoked to get stoked now.
I’m going to try to eat my vegetables and look for gravel parking lots to roost in to stay sharp enough to slay a giant.