A "blue collar" cyclist's adventures from the saddle of a bike.
Letting Go: In Search of the Perfect Ride
Bike rides are so much more than pedaling and steering. They can contain a myriad of technical facets such as proper form, efficient handling, and effort management. Rides can also take on a completely different focus which hone in on the surrounding beauty, the wind passing over you, and the freedom that you felt the first time you swung your leg over that single speed you owned as a child.
There have been times that I’ve come home from rides feeling frustrated and cursing my perceived lack of skill. I’ve beat myself up for not being able to clean a difficult climb or get through a rock garden without a dab. Those rides resulted in me mumbling, "I'm terrible" as I carelessly stowed the bike in the rack. Yet, there have been other rides where that last mumble was "Man, was I on today" as I contemplated the corners I railed, the climbs I made, and the descents that were handled without hesitation. Unfortunately, that latter thought has come with less frequency these past few months. What’s been missing? What’s been wrong?
I’ve spent a lot of time pondering what the missing pieces could be when it occurred to me that the answer is "nothing". Nothing is missing! All that I hope for from a ride is within the trail, the bike and me. The problem has been that I’ve been looking for that special something in all the wrong places. I’ve been equating technical skill and hard physical effort to great rides. I couldn’t have been more wrong. What about that feeling I had as a kid? I never demanded physical excellence from myself at age twelve and those bike rides were the best. Can I tap into that feeling at will or will it just show up sometimes?
After careful consideration I’ve come to the conclusion that finding the perfect ride lies in the art of letting go. When my mind goes blank, and I can hear the wind humming through the vents of my helmet I know I’ve found it. When I can no longer hear my bike or feel the imperfections of the trail I know I’ve found it. It’s when I am floating down a ribbon of single track with my heart beat in my ears that I know I can ride forever, it’s then that I know I’ve found the perfect ride.