From my best guesstimate I rode twice this week–Tuesday and Thursday thus far, with high hopes for some sort of crap riding over the next three or four days.
These days I don’t even pretend that the ride isn’t going to be made up of the three Ss–short, shit, and slow. But I ride.
I don’t so much make myself ride, as just ride. That’s just what I do, and what I’ve done three to six times a week for the last nearly 25 years.
I no longer race, forty to fifty mile rides have become twenty to thirty mile rides, and most of the time I am in some sort of physical discomfort. Yet I still do it.
Why? Because just about everything else sucks. I don’t run (although have attempted many times) and I limit strength training to about 12 times a year when I start to worry about aging, sagging pecs. While I enjoy a good hike now and then, I often find walking on singletrack sort of like watching someone else eat food. So I ride.
About a year or so ago I started taking more and more photos while riding. The reason for this is three-part.
- I’m a graphic designer, or at least was, by trade and doing creative things is sort of part of who I am, and what I love to do. Sort of like riding, no matter how hard I try, or how crap I am, I’m drawn to it.
- Stopping to take photos helps with the back and hip issues I have. I’m not just stopping to stretch out, I’m dialing in my shot.
- Taking photos, and looking for subject matter takes my mind off how riding has changed for me. When I’m looking for a shot, or composing one, I’m not thinking about how crap my ride is, I’m thinking about the photo I’m taking.
Every ride can’t be a great one, nor can every photo. Some shots I’m really happy with, and some I hate–knowing that I fucked it up. Some our photographs, and some are merely snapshots from rides.
But as the months go by I’ve seen a good deal of progress. At one time I was a point and shoot, everything in Auto Mode guy just trying to get some shots for the blog. Now I’m using a DSLR or mirrorless camera, and I’m in Manual Mode 99.5% of the time.
Sometimes shooting reminds me of when I started mountain biking. There was a section of rocks on a snowmobile trail loop I used to do on Laurel Mountain back home in Pennsylvania. I was riding a full rigid GT mountain bike, and those first few rides, every time I went through those rocks I crashed. Eventually I was making it through, only putting a foot down once or twice, and in time I was rolling over those rocks nearly every time. Soon after I moved to a better mountain bike with front suspension and blew through the rocks each and every time without thinking.
Eventually the DNR removed that rock section for some reason, and the trail became like a highway, but I knew how I progressed and grew as a rider.
Although how I ride continues to evolve, I have no plans to stop. For better or worse, I also have no plans to stop taking photos either, because I suppose we all need something in life to try to get better at. It may take a while until I’m taking great shots without thinking about it, but at least when I screw a shot up I’m not bleeding and turning black and blue!