There are still a few days left in 2016, but it’s the time of year when I
reflect on the past 12 months (and I’ve had a lot of time to reflect, given my slow recovery from a concussion).
When 2016 began, my goal was to celebrate the year I turned 50 with 50 “memorable” rides. I purposely avoided the term “epic”, because it’s overused and it’s a relative term. “Memorable” is simply memorable to me, and it can be memorable for one of several reasons: (1) It can be an event/race, (2) it can be exploring new roads or trails, (3) it can be riding with new (or old) friends (4) any other reason I can think of.
By Labour Day in September, I had completed 38 of these rides when I crashed (on ride #38). While I consider myself lucky (no broken bones, torn ligaments, stitches…), I have still had a long recovery. The scrapes healed within a few weeks, but my concussion symptoms have lingered. I am riding, but very slowly and short distances, and during this recovery period, I’ve come to realize a few things:
1. Sometimes, cycling is just about the ride (particularly when injury prevents you from riding fast or far). It’s not about intervals or tempo or recovery rides or town sprints or hills or heart rate or VO2 or watts/kg or fat tires or road bikes or gravel grinders or singletrack or KOMs/QOMs or Strava segments or average speed or getting dropped. It’s about getting outside, bundling up (at this time of year), hopping on a bike and riding at 15 km/h (even slower in the snow!). It’s about exploring trails so close to home, you probably overlooked them. It’s about riding on a multi-use path and ringing a bell when passing someone pushing a stroller because this time, you’re the faster-moving, heavier object, and you want to show pedestrians the same respect that you want motorized vehicles to show you on the road. It’s about getting up off the couch, moving your body and breathing clean air… any time of year!
2. I have mountain bike friends who think road riding isn’t much of a workout and it’s not “real” cycling. I have road rider friends who think mountain bikers are nothing more than weekend warriors on big-wheeled BMX bikes. I have fat bike friends who think mountain bikers aren’t true off-road cyclists. It seems like every discipline has naysayers who want their discipline to be superior. I say this: we’re ALL cyclists, and we need to stick together as advocates for cycling, whether it’s on 5″ tires or 23mm tires. Carbon, aluminum or steel frames. Pavement, gravel, dirt, track, sand, grass surfaces. The more people on bikes (any kind of bike) the better!
3. Although most of my rides in recent months have been alone, it is the community of cycling that appeals to me. The social aspect of cycling is a big part of the draw for me. The Waterloo Cycling Club is one of the biggest in the province and the Hydrocut Trails are among the most popular mountain bike trails in Ontario and beyond. It’s an honour to be a part of the WCC and the trail committee and to be surrounded by passionate and dedicated cyclists.
And finally… Merry Christmas to all! Get out on your road/cx/mountain/fat/spin bike and ride, cycle, spin!