In an effort to establish a daily writing routine, and to slay the dragon of Resistance, I am embarking on an A to Z odyssey. Every day, excluding Saturday and Sunday, I will write (and post) an essay based around a letter of the alphabet. Today is day 1, and so I am starting with ‘A’. Tomorrow, ‘B’, and so on. I’m actually very nervous about this. It’s not going to be easy. I suspect I will miss some sleep. I might hate what I write, and I might not. But the point of the exercise isn’t to be brilliant, it’s to be diligent and to do the work.
7 years is a long time. Maybe not in the grand scheme, but how many of us will ever live to witness that unfold anyway? 7 years is 10% of an average lifetime. It’s the lifespan of an average American marriage. 7 years ago there was no Facebook (not the way we understand it today), Twitter, or iPhone, and the most advanced mountain bikes on the market were clunky by today’s standards.
7 years ago I started filling this space.
When I wrote my first post, I had no idea what this space would become. I didn’t think it would last very long. This wasn’t the first blog I had started. I had tried others, but nothing stuck. It was only when I started writing about bikes that I felt like I was beginning to find a voice. And that voice has evolved throughout the years. For the better? You tell me.
Somewhere along the way I realized that I enjoyed writing as much as I did riding. The two have been important outlets for me as I’ve tried to make sense of the world and to find my place in it. Both have led to new friendships, adventures, and even revelations.
I know that might be a bit grandiose. After all, this is just a blog. And not even one that has head-turning traffic. However, I do feel like this has been, and hopefully will continue to be, a space that entertains, and enlightens; a space that we can go to and remember why we started riding a bike (or skiing, or hiking) in the first place.
And why did we start riding bikes? For fun, obviously. And because every other kid in the neighborhood was riding. It’s just what kids did. We rode our bikes every day, and everywhere. I can still remember the first time I rode without training wheels. The speed and the exhilaration were thrilling. I got cocky, and tried to ride off the curb. I still have the scars. But for the first time in my life I knew what freedom was all about. I understood what it meant to be independent. I could ride my bike anywhere I wanted to. Even clear around the block. In 30 years, nothing has changed. I can still ride my bike anywhere I want to go.
Riding a bike is a reminder that we are most happy when we are free, independent, and on the move. Bikes have changed my life, and they are changing lives all over the world. Bikes have a way of knitting people together and creating friendships among opposites. They can heal wounds as well as souls. Bikes are almost magical. With a bicycle we can experience the world quickly, but without the removal, shelter, and distractions of a vehicle. When we pedal down a road or a trail we are participating in our environment, rather than simply occupying it. There are no places where a bike is inappropriate or out of place.
I never realized any of these things before I started writing. In the beginning I simply wrote about what I did (“rode the Shoreline Trail today, felt good, kept my heart rate low”) on the bike. But then I began to realize that why I was out riding my bike was far more interesting to me (and hopefully to you) than the banalities of mileage, heart rate, and intervals. And that’s when everything began to change. I started riding with more purpose, and that purpose followed me to the keyboard. The more I wrote, and the more I pedaled, the more obvious the power of bicycles (and the people who ride them) became.
Suddenly I had a voice. I am a mountain biker. I am a writer.
It feels strange to openly declare those things. Especially writer. It sounds lofty, and conjures ability and prestige that I will never posses. I am not the person that I see in my head when I think of a writer. Nevertheless, it is what I do. It is my life’s work. I would never have learned this had I not created this blog. And I would not have created this blog had I never become a mountain biker. We are what we do. I ride bikes, and I write words.
Bikes and words. Words and bikes.*
The last 7 years have not always been easy, and they have not always been pleasant. But they have been good, meaningful years. I’m optimistic about the future, and the wonderful opportunities to ride and write that it might offer. But until then, I’ll continue to chip away daily at my delusions of grandeur until they finally become actual, rather than mythical.
If I’ve learned anything from riding a bike, it’s that progress takes time, climbing hills is hard work, and going anywhere requires getting dirty.
But dirt washes away. Experience, however, never does.
I enjoy being here. I hope you do as well.
Thank you for spending a little of your time here each day. I hope I have made it worthwhile.
Who knows, maybe we’ll still be here in another 7 years.