As I type this, I’m keenly aware that Monday’s post was Hurt, and now I’m typing about Blood. These are the kind of posts that inspire questions from my wife about exactly why I ride.
Last night, BPaul, Lenny and I headed out of town on fat bikes. Having spent most of our recent fat rides on trails in town, we wanted to get out of town and actually go somewhere…so we headed down to Afton Forest Preserve. Riding south, into the wind, in 14 degrees, on a fatbike, at a good clip, I was suffering. That old familiar taste of blood in the back of your mouth… In this case, I had been working until about 7pm, then scarfed down some Chipotle, and was on the bike at 8. I felt like that Chipotle was going to be revisited a second time, in a less pleasant fashion.
Summer is around the corner. Time to shift training to accommodate this sort of effort.
The “Imgonnapukerightnow” feeling eventually subsided, and we rolled into Afton. The snow drifts were deep, and had frozen with a nice crust on top. For the most part, you could spin right across the top of the drifts. In some areas, it was like a little snow pump track. It was ridiculously fun to work the little drift rollers, spin up a 3-4 tall, rock-solid drift, and hop of the back-end. It made the whole ride worthwhile. Off-road, I feel so much more confident on the bike.
The drifts were akin to fatbike surfing–or snowmobiling. It was effortless when you were rolling on the hard drifts, and you could drop-in and roll into the trough of the snowbank at will. Fantastic.
Back on the road for the ride home, I was again reminded of the XX1 drivetrain. It is amazing and I positively love it 95% of the time. That said, when you’re on the road with a mild tailwind and 2 strong riders, having some more gearing options would be nice. 28×10 just isn’t tall enough gearing to hang with BPaul when he gets on a wild hare, and even when not geared out, the jump between 28×12 to 28×10 is pretty big. In some ways, the 2×10 Beargrease may be more versatile. For ultimate fatbike use, I still think the XX1 is the faster call. Which option is better overall…that’s open to debate. For summer use, I’m definitely going to go to a 30 or 32T chainring.
One closing note: I was reading a commenter on Facebook yesterday who indicated that gravel riders ride gravel (instead of crits) because they are unmotivated, mediocre riders. He suggested not only that he was superior because he rides crits, but that his friends were superior and strive for excellence, unlike gravel riders. He indicated that he rides gravel too (presumably when he’s slumming), but because of his general superiority, blinding speed, and need to perform at a higher level, he focuses on crits instead of gravel rides/races. There was a note of pity in his tone when he talked about events like the Gravel Metric.
I’m still formulating my thoughts on his comments. In a lot of ways, I really feel sorry for the guy. Based on some of his other comments, it really sounds like he’s missing out on some of the best parts of cycling. I’m sure all of his friends crap excellence and pee pineapple Fanta, but they’ve got nothing on our Axletree folk. In a lot of ways, I really hope that people with his “my form of cycling is better” or the “anything to win” mentality stick to crits. I don’t really want to go out and ride, or race, against people who want to be cutthroat. After a hard race, I go back to work on Monday. If another rider goes down, I will stop to help, not sprint for the win. It’s a different culture–a different ethos. The riding I do slakes my competitive thirst, and also makes me a better, more compassionate, more giving, more team-oriented person. I say “better” here in comparison to myself, not in comparison to others; I’m not claiming to be better (or worse) than the above-mentioned crit racer. But I am claiming that doing the rides I do, with the people I do them with, makes me a better person than I’d otherwise be.
I feel bad for someone who has to cast aspersions on others, without knowing them, in order to feel better about his own choices. If what I do is mediocrity, then mediocrity is pretty damn amazing, and surprisingly fulfilling. Over time, I’m realizing that I have nothing to prove, and no one to impress, on a bike. I’m realizing that if I ride a bike in order to tell others something about me, or if I worry about a ride result and how it will be perceived by others, then I’m selling myself short. I want to be challenged, I want to ride my best, I want to have fun–but I want to do these things around others that I care about and look out for. I ride bikes for recreation and sport; I recognize that, and relish it.
I’m slowly realizing that I don’t have to feel superior to fell fantastic. Even as I realize that; even as I type it…I still have to temper the sarcastic/cynical side of me that wants to shred obvious weaknesses in his syntax. I’m the first to admit–I’ve got a long ways to go with my personal development, and never see myself as being anything other than imperfect. (Obvious statement is obvious). But at the very least, I can start to see when I’m about to be a douchebag, and restrain myself. Usually.
Blood and surfing. Get some.