Bike riding has become integrated into my daily routine. It’s a part of my life. It wasn’t always that way, but it is now. And I don’t ever foresee a time when spinning pedals isn’t a regular occurrence. Jobs have changed, priorities have shifted, but riding a bicycle has remained a constant. I hope it always will. However, within that sphere of pedals and wheels, changes have, and continue, to occur. I’ve ridden a bike for utilitarian reasons. I’ve used a bike to explore. I’ve raced cross-country, cyclocross, and endurance events. I’ve dabbled in bikepacking*. At times I ask myself, “what’s next?”
*And I plan to do more!
I have no idea. Except that riding itself is a progressive, evolutionary act. I’m a better rider than I was a few years ago. And, despite my permanent place in the middle of the pack, the inherent physical (and mental) benefits are accruing, laying a foundation for a future of healthy living. That is, riding, and racing, encourages a more sustainable lifestyle, whose dividends are an untold positivity. The investments I’m making now—the training, racing, lifestyle choices—could prove far more valuable when I’m 75 years old than any 401k or stock options ever will.
But what about right now? Or next year? Or the next 5 years**?
**If it were not for this blog, I’d have no idea what I did 5 years ago.
Recently, a co-worker asked me about my 5-year plan. “My what?”
“What do you want to be doing in 5 years?”
A list of bike and ski irrelevancies flashed through mind: the Colorado Trail Race, the Breck Epic, the Coconino 250, the southwest face of Timpanogos, Superior…
I pushed those thoughts away long enough to act focused.
“Honestly, I have never thought that far ahead.”
I really hadn’t. Ever. And I still haven’t. At least, I haven’t in any specific, presentable form. There is no PowerPoint presentation on my desktop called “The Next 5 Years: The Future of Grizzly Adam.” When I do think about the future, the thoughts are abstract, obscure, and clouded. I do know that I want to write more. I’d like to climb a few more mountains. I want to show my kids the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, and more of Zion. I want to stretch my bike riding habit to its logical conclusion. What is that conclusion?
How should I know?
Actually, I hope there never is a conclusion. Not to bike riding, and not to adventures, bike races, and the desire to try new and interesting things.
I want to ride a bicycle forever.
It is a profound bit of symbolism that a bicycle can’t be ridden backwards. One can only go forward on a bike. Onward. Ahead.
Forward propulsion leads to mental, spiritual, and emotional progress. Pedaling a bike forces us to connect with our bodies and our minds. We learn to appreciate the sublimity of human strength, the acuity of gravity, and the conspicuous beauty of the world around us. Not only the beauty of the mountains and the sky, but the small things as well; flowers, rocks, dirt. We learn to slow down, even while becoming faster and more efficient riders. We are not so hurried, and the day’s urgencies fade into the background, forgotten for short, but wonderful moments of clean, circular happiness.
I don’t know what I will be doing in 5 years, and frankly, I don’t care. So long as a bike is still involved, then whatever it is I spend my days doing won’t really matter. As long as I have the bike to keep me sane, healthy, and forward-focused, I will be happy. In other words, in 5 years, I hope I’m doing most of the same things I am doing today. Riding. Writing. And having the time of my life trying to improve at each.