Big Bob with the Big Bat

New_years_rideSo, one night (one of many), my friend Peter and I went for a gorgeous night ride in one of our favourite riding spots. The Abyss…

It was January, and recently we had been experiencing snow, so the opportunities to put mountain biking rubber down on grippy forest floor were slim and spotty depending on the weather forecast.

We went out for our weekly (sometimes twice weekly) late evening ride. Our standard, “meet at the Gate at 9”, with the night as our oyster.

The night did not disappoint. We hammered through protected and forested lush single track; with sections of pillaged clear cut and slushy, snowy lines in between. I, as usual, chasing the rear wheel of my super fit riding buddy; hoping he was going to choose a good line through the narrowly lit path I was blindly flying through just behind him.

At the end, we both rode as fast as we could down our last trail, to finish off yet another fun, and exhilarating ride.

After, we took some time at “the Gate” to catch up over the last few days. It’s like our debrief on all the stresses of the last week, and how we are handling this thing called “life”. Probably successfully considered to outsiders as male bonding time. Peter is like a brother, and our conversations together end up meaning as much as the time we spend snaking around on our favourite trails together.

While talking about law, politics, juicy new bike parts and frames, our relationships, we saw a shadowed figure approaching. He didn’t look meek. In fact, as he came closer; it was quite clear this guy was big…

And, he had a bat.

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Yup, I’m sitting here in my ‘counselling session’ and now; well, I’m about to die. Fuck.

I say hi. He replies with equal friendly gratuity.

He says, “oh, i see we have some enthusiasts!” ; while shining his flashlight back and forth between our cars and illuminating our freshly muddied bikes attached to the back of each.

We start chatting. He’s the neighbourhood ‘watchdog’. We chat about some idiot that parked his truck in the same spot as us, and proceeded to steal tools from a neighbour back in the new development on the other side of our forested trailhead. That there have been a few teen aged partyers around in the forest from time to time, and that his next door neighbour had a bunch of things stolen from his garage.

I sensed his frustration. I understood the large bat accommodating Big Bob. But at the same time, I felt at ease with Bob. He was a nice guy. One of those people we all wished we had as neighbours.  We all introduced each other, understanding that we were all innocent folk, and chatted a bit more.

Bob told us about how long he’d been in the neighbourhood, a few other things in making idle chat, and then mentioned those pesky problems his area had been facing.

He mentioned one night a few months ago, coming out in the dark with his bat and flashlight, and saw a mini-van, “with kids car seats in the back”, and a bike rack sticking out the back. He was worried. So, he called the cops. This person, possibly a mom, was out in the forest. At night. In the fucking dark. With his/her bike.

This couldn’t turn out well. What the hell would someone do that for? They may never return.

So, Bob called the cops.

Right away, I saw the connection! I drove that minivan!!!

A few months back, I had my regular bike rack break off the back of my car. As I was just in between some expenses, I used the van instead of my car to get out for my regular night ride. I had gone out for a gorgeous fall ride; and just like normal; I finished the ride with a grin on my face, and texted my sometimes-concerned with what the hell I’m about wife, I was alive and coming home.

The place where we park is a dead-end road slash cul-de-sac. I was doing a U-turn as I was leaving, and saw a local RCMP car parked doing some paperwork.

At 11 o’clock at night…??

I thought that was odd, but went on my merry way. Home to my family, and happy that I get the both of best worlds. Time to see my kids grow, time to hang out with my super supportive wife, and that special time I have hammering through the forest with only the part of trail my light can keep up with, in front of me.

I am one lucky man. Bob didn’t kill me with his bat. I have friends, family, kids, and a wife that supports my passion. And I am fortunate to experience the magic that is night riding!

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Slowly learning to be more selfish

This year, after taking some time off to manage my life better (or more accurately manage it at all) , I have decided to focus a bit more on me.
The start came from a very unexpected and generous gesture from an anonymous friend…

Back in the spring, I was struggling to afford to fix my mountain bike. I had really screwed it up by ripping off my drivetrain. The $200 repair bill was too much to rescue my best inanimate friend from its bike shop prison.

My favourite bike shop wasn’t the issue. They have always taken such good care of me, and go the extra mile to save me money with my biking addiction.

The problem was cash flow, as is always the case with a single income and a large blended family.

I was avoiding calling the shop out of embarrassment. When, after 3 weeks, Jim from Experience Cycling called about my bike, I started to apologize for taking so long to pay. He stopped me mid sentence to say it had all been taken care of!?! A friend had gone into the shop and paid my bill! Mind blown…

It was like I had won the lottery! Except better. It wasn’t luck that got my bike out of the shop. It was a friend. A caring friend that knows me well enough to recognize how important mountain biking is for my sanity! I cried. Yes, it meant that much to me.

It has felt like a turning point in my life. I have been quite down over the past year, and here was a moment where a caring person was essentially paying to get me back onto my bike. Since that day, I haven’t gone more than a few days or nights without getting out for a ride.

I have been out at least twice a week for the last few months. I’ve lost over 20 pounds, and felt the fittest I’ve been in 5 or more years!

It does come with some guilt though. There are only so many hours in the day, and only so much energy I have to do all I need to do in the day. And this is what I thought I would blog about today, after over a year being on hiatus from blogging. I struggle with learning to be selfish, to say no, to accept criticism, to speak up, or to put myself higher on the priority list; for my own mental and physical health.

I also have to set priorities for my activities. Blogging has suffered. So has the time to sit down and read, go out with friends or have a date with my wife.

I think writing has a place in my busy life. I hope to be back soon with another post! 🙂

 

This habit of sitting on my ass.

I’ve slowly been developing a habit over time. It is a habit that will kill me over time.

It’s me sitting on my ass.

Everyday, in my job, I sit on my ass. For 9 hours.

Then, I get into my car, and sit on my ass on the drive home.

I get a small reprieve while I get the kids off to bed, clean up their tornado.

Then, I’m tired. And sit on my ass until bed.

What did I used to do?

I would put on my night lights, throw my leg over my mountain bike, and go ride. At least twice a week!

Over the last 6 months, it has got down to once every couple of weeks. The rides are getting shorter, I exert myself less, and I am getting fat.

Currently I’m the heaviest I’ve been in my entire life! 205 pounds! I’m usually between 185 to 195 pounds, and fit. Not now.

This post is my ‘public shaming’. I’ve got to make a change.

So, I’m doing something that I hope will motivate my round bottom…I got a used bike frame! Much like some people that get a gym membership, or a treadmill to hopefully get off the couch, a new(ish) mountain bike can do that for me!

Here it is, in all it’s glory…I’m not religious, but I pray that this will help me get back on track again…Single track that is.

May this help me get back on the trails again...
May this help me get back on the trails again…

The Annual New Year’s Day (Night) Ride!

Tonight I got out late for my annual New Year’s Day ride! After a day of hanging out with my kids, and going to my parents’ house for dinner, I felt my opportunity of sticking to my annual ride was fading quickly. But luckily, every year at this time, I feel a renewed sense of energy to get out more often as a silent resolution.

Getting home at 9pm, I knew I only had a limited amount of energy left once the kids were in bed…

New_years_rideLate last winter, after a dismal season of riding due to the shorter days, I decided that instead of getting a monthly gym membership and sitting on a spin bike for a couple of months quietly crying inside my head; I would invest in a good quality night light for my helmet…rock-drops

Many of my friends consider me a bit nuts for heading out for rides in the dark, by myself in the woods, while listening to my iPod. Well, I say to them, “Me out for rides makes me less nuts..” (said in a crazy person’s voice…).

Today I decided to share, the best that I could, what I see as I ride through the forest at night…My wife says it creeps her out. haha. Silly wife, this is not Blair Witch…Is it?

Weekly Photo Challenge – Near and Far

 

This weekend, after many many weeks of heat and laziness on my part, I was able to get out for a desperately needed mountain bike ride!

One of the best parts of living in a place with lots of mountains and trees, is the ability to explore to my heart’s content. On this particular ride, I followed one of the local maps and made a horrible assumption…  Continue reading “Weekly Photo Challenge – Near and Far”

My Christmas ride one day late results in a present!

Today I got to go on my annual Christmas ride! It is one of my favourite rides of the year. Being on the west coast of Canada, I and all the other mountain bikers, can ride pretty much year round! So to ride on Christmas almost every year for the last 15 to 20 years has become one of my favourite traditions.

This year on Christmas day I had quite a busy morning, and forgot to dry my riding gear. By the time it was done in the dryer, I didn’t have much time to complete a worthy ride, so I opted instead for a nap.

I did this knowing that I still had Boxing Day on the 26th to complete my ride. And, man was I ever happy I did. You see, if I had gone yesterday, I would have done the ride alone and I would have rushed the ride and stuck to the trails I know.

But instead, today I was able to bring my riding partner Jeremy. For anyone keeping score, he is also my very talented brewmaster that did all the beer for our wedding!

He had gone out for a ride recently and had discovered the beginnings of some NEW trails in the area we frequent. Today we went of explored them more! Finding new trails is much like a Christmas present for mountain bikers! Especially ones that were built by mountain bikers! They add all the little touches that are needed to make the trail unique and one of a kind.

After a good hour and a half ride on brand new trails, we went back to Jeremy’s place and had a toast to another great year of riding, and did it with a glass of his yummy beer!

A great annual ride, and this year’s was one of the best!