Finding Myself

I spent most of Friday at the shop doing things that one does while working in a bike shop and was anxious to get out for some riding on Saturday.

After watching some footy and drinking too much coffee, I mapped out another gravel ride starting from the Jacques rail trail up the road in Clare and uploaded it to the Garmin 520 Plus I got from the aforementioned bike shop a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had a hit or miss history with Garmin products over the years, but so far the 520 is doing everything I ask of it and more.

Needless product endorsements aside, I was happy to be getting out for a ride and happier still that it appeared that I could get the ride in before another round of thunderstorms closed in on the area.

The ride had just about every surface mid-Michigan could offer: ultra smooth paved rail trail, washboard dirt roads, gravel, and a pinch of patchwork asphalt.

The cloudy skies and warm, somewhat humid, temps made for some of my favorite conditions as I pedal for pixels (#pedaling4pixels). There was a breeze, but it was just strong enough to be cooling without being a stifling headwind.

As I pedaled along the gravel roads of mid-Michigan, my mind wandered back to past Labor Day weekends when I lived in Pennsylvania. On those weekends I would often find myself racing solo at the now extinct 24 Hour Champion Challenge held at Seven Springs ski resort in Champion, PA. I found myself happily looking back on those days, but happier still that I was NOT putting myself through that shit anymore!

Racing 24 hours back in 2008, I think.

Don’t get me wrong; I loved being in such great shape and racing my bike, but now I find myself happy and finally accepting who and what I am as a 47-year-old cyclist. Something that seemed like I would never really see in the wake of multiple blood clots and the eventual demise of XXC Magazine. I was mad about everything in those years; the DVTs, myself for thinking I should have done more to keep the magazine going, the cycling industry, and cycling culture as a whole. But not anymore.

I hardly mountain bike anymore, I don’t race at all, my rides hardly ever top the 40-mile mark, I’m almost 50 pounds heavier than when I was racing, and I enjoy too much beer and pizza. Still, I now find myself truly happy as a cyclist. I ride, I take photos, and get outside. I ride when I want, where I want, and how I want.

Admittedly, I was nearly at this point last year but suffered a pretty big set back when a motorist killed my friend Mike while he was road riding. It took some work to get my mental mojo back after that. I still miss Mike of course, but right now I’m feeling good about riding, mainly when I’m not on the road.

Now that I’ve written way more than I planned, it’s time to check the weather and see if I can squeeze a ride in between storms. Or just put another pot of coffee on, watch some footy, and then go for a hike. Whatever the decision, it will be the right one.


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