Monday, August 15, 2016

Bikes are good, friends are better.

I've got two sets of friends in my life, my "bike" friends and then some other people that I know. Not that there is anything wrong with my non-bike friends, they are all great people. But there is something special about my biker buddies. It's like we all share a great secret, and every time someone gets on a bike and gets hooked on riding, we know that now they know the secret too. Read more...

I think there is a certain kind of kinship that develops between people when they suffer together and I think that this is one thing that brings riders together. If you have ever raced, for the most part the people that you are competing against will be the first ones to help you if you need it because we're all suffering together. It's not so much a case of rider against rider, but more of humans against the world. Unfortunately this isn't always the case, since there are some people out there that think that the only thing that matters is their mid-pack finish in some obscure race or Gran Fondo. Those people miss out on the best part of riding, the friends.

One of the things that makes these riding friends so special is that they "know." They know what it is like to have your legs feel like they weigh 200 lbs each; they know what it feels like to look up at a mountain and feel insignificant while riding up it; they know how it feels to have sweat pouring out of your body like a faucet; they know the pain associated with impact at high speeds; they know how it is to sacrifice nice clothes or a fancy car in favor of new bike parts; they know pain, sweat, blood, adrenaline, oxygen deprivation, bruises and the bonk. They just know.

I have the distinct pleasure of still being friends with the guy who first got me into BMX riding more than 20 years ago, Mike Lawless. Literally, his front brake endo altered the course of my life. Now that we're both old(er), we're still chasing each other on the trails, but we're on mountain bikes instead of BMX bikes... the bikes have changed, but the friendship hasn't.

 Look around your office, your neighborhood, your campus and think about how many of those people that you call friends would you like to see you in spandex? That alone can make or break a friendship. Think about how many of those people would you like to have see you gasping for breath, grunting, trying granny up a hill, or how many of those people do you want to see you when you are stuck in a bush upside down still clipped in to your bike? Riding with people breaks down a lot of the barriers and fronts we can hide behind in normal day-to-day life. I remember riding with some people from work back in Florida and seeing my boss go face first into the mud. At that moment he wasn't my boss anymore, he was a friend. You can't act superior when your are sitting in a mud hole. Mountain biking helps people see you for who you really are; it bares your soul.

If you get lost, go on a ride longer than you really should, do a 24-hour race, get hurt on the trail, or do any of these things with certain people, you form a bond, a bond that holds true across the country and across the world. I have friends in almost all 48 of the continental states and even some overseas, all through cycling. And no matter where they are or what is going on in our lives, we've got a common thread.

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in who has the lightest bike or the lowest body fat or even the most race trophies, but you can't measure the benefits of cycling with material things, you measure it by all the names contact list under "B" for "Bikers."

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