Friday, May 3, 2013

Mayday! Wait, this isn't actually May Day.

Like a cousin returning from the Peace Corps, or a buried trail-side can of Miller High Life recently unearthed, I have returned, a little more rusty, my exterior faded and dented, with my mind's contents ready to spill out on the pages once again. Here we go for 2013!

Now that we are in the Month of May, I am getting emails and reminders from friends and organizations to help track the progress of bike nerds everywhere using the National Bike Challenge mileage tracker. As I understand it, this is a way for individuals, groups, communities, and cities to track and compare the miles they've collectively logged on two wheels. This seems like a fine idea except I have absolutely no interest in it at all. If these figures will be used to tell policy makers how many thousands of individuals make bicycle riding a part of their everyday routines, then I can get behind that effort and I'll be right in line to stand up and be counted. But, if this is actually just one more opportunity for analysis in the narcissistic feedback loop of modern cycling, then I'm out. Commuting to work is still just getting to work. I don't need to press buttons on my phone every time I jump on my bicycle just so we can all jerk off over how many miles we've contributed to this artificial game-ification of getting where we need to go. 

Basically, I decided years ago that I adore the feeling of being on a bicycle, I like wrenching on bikes and collecting parts, I am actually a pretty good bike rider, but I am a terrible bicycle racer. There is no doubt that my resolve has grown a bit stronger with the birth of our fourth(!) child, but I have no problem telling all the bike geeks I know: I am resolved to enjoy my bicycle rides simply for the sake of being outside, of feeling the breeze on my cheeks, of going fast, or slow, and arriving at my destination--or back at home after having had no destination whatsoever--without having delivered an environmental kidney punch to mother nature in the process. I only want to ride my bicycle. I do not want to analyize any metrics, or plot power numbers, or boast about Strava segments. I do not want to go out on my bike and "practice" anything. I do not want to work on anything, nor do repeats of anything, whether they be hills, intervals, or sprints. The only repeats I want on my bike rides are smiles and high fives.

I view my cycling as an escape, a hobby, a sport, form of transportation, and leisure activity. Do other hobbyists fetishize over their pursuits so meticulously? Do basketball fans measure how many games they watched on cable vs. networks? During the playoffs do they record and compare statistics for every game: if they sat in the big chair, or sprawled on the couch, if they ate pretzels or popcorn, with a Bud Light, a Miller High Life, or a Hamm's? Get over it bike nerds. If you want to race then get a license and get your ass on the line. If you want to obsess over your stats and go to war with Cleveland about who has the most bike riders, then leave me the hell out.

Speaking of getting the hell out, me and this dude below, Bas (don't forget that he definitely be logging), got the hell out for a couple bicycle rides recently.

Part of the mission on this particular excursion was to check out a new Illegal trail in Frick Park in the city of Pittsburgh. There was a time when illegal trail builders kept this stuff secret and built jumps and berms in the woods in order to share with their friends. Those days have segued into Facebook posts with full length videos of the trail and Twitter updates with directions to the trailhead. I'm not sure when guys with shovels became so brazen, but I do know that these trails are making things difficult for those who are trying to convince city officials about the need for legal access to single track. Anyone that hasn't seen it can check out Pittsburgh Trail Advocacy Group's position on the issue. The hard part about something like this is that if a person is dedicated eneough to go out and dig trail undercover, then that person often is also dedicated enough to build fun, lasting, single track. This case is no different. The trail is fun to ride.

If you know someone who loves trailbuilding enough to do it on his own, give him a high five and tell him to get on board with doing stuff legally. That's all I'll say about it.

Have a good weekend, whether it be with a Bud Light, a Miller High Life, or a Hamm's.


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