I was in deep, so deep I didn’t even see the landscape bouncing by. Not deep in sand or washboard. Sure, there were plenty of patches to jar your brains out. No: I was in deep inside a dark place. A dark place where your inner critic tells you how much you suck, how you’ll never be good enough, and how you won’t make it. That little hateful voice gives you every reason to quit while obsessing about the detail of things you could have done differently.
Lost in Time
After the second day of our 7-day adventure of cycling the C&O Canal through the GAP (Great Alleghany Passage) from of Washington DC to Pittsburg – I had found that time had become a meaningless blur of green foliage and the endless crunch of tires on gravel. I was lost in time and I felt as if we had been on this gravel path for months.
Perhaps it was the rich history of the C&O Canal pulling me away from reality or perhaps it was the strong and steady pace we maintained through the continuous tunnel of forest. Time moves differently here. To the green tunnel, it was just another summer on planet Earth without a particular year. It could have been 1817 or 2017. However: in 1817 we may have terrified the mules on the C&O Canal towpath.
The allure of gritty adventurous fun awaits those intrepid enough to eschew asphalt and pedal down roads less traveled. Less traveled by motor vehicles (to be specific) and, until recently, self-powered 2-wheeled steeds of freedom. Being relatively new to the fine art of gravel grinding I am learning something from every expedition and I would like to share some notes to gravel grinding newbies!
Gravel racers that are successful can usually thank the trifecta of gravel rides: Preparation, Skill and Luck. Typically, most of us hope for at least two out of three in order to come in ahead of most of the gritty and dusty pack. I would have to say that my first gravel race was awesome because I got two of the three right … and one of those wasn’t Skill.
Criterium racing has always been a favorite of mine in the world of competitive cycling. The speed, the adrenaline and the social atmosphere appeals to me. I love sprinting and I love spending time with my fellow cycling peeps. However: there’s an uncertain side to competitive cycling. The darker side of injury. Multiple concussions have reshaped my life. Even eight months after a significant concussion I have to admit that I’m not sure I will ever be the same again.
Glazed crinkly warm sweetness and fresh moist dough that melts in your mouth. Iced delicacies of sugared perfection with sprinkles and dainty sweet sparkles. Richly plump delights filled to overflowing with fruit flavors that burst at the first bite. Cinnamon rolled with gooey icing that sticks to everything it touches with cloying sweetness. Daring chocolate confections that hide iced pudding under sugared dough or flaky crunchiness. Reds, cherries, blueberry filling, apple pie tarts, and icing surprises all before me: tempting and tantalizing.
As most avid cyclists know: it can be difficult to find the necessary motivation to get out and push yourself when you are riding solo, especially when the weather isn’t playing nice. The group training ride served as a fantastic motivational forum for more experienced cyclists to stretch athletic abilities, gain strength and skills. Until quite recently, the group training ride was also a great experience for beginning cyclists to learn the ‘rules of the road’.
So, why is it that many group training rides have now evolved into some sort of awful etiquette-vacuum of mindless sprints, general chaos, and savage mayhem?
We might need to add structured training rides to the Endangered List.
January 24, 2017: Tommy Ketterhagen
November 23, 2016: Missy Hardeman
Over the past three years a 143 cyclists have been struck and killed in Texas by motorists. In over 70% of the cases no traffic citation is recorded by police for the motorist involved and the majority of incidents go without any justice at all. The current level of frustration and anger is prevalent in the cycling community as we mourn yet another needless loss of life. The big question is “WHY?” Why isn’t there justice and why are people so hateful, callous, or uncaring? As an avid cyclist as well as a continuous student of culture and sociology: I believe we are seeing the deadly impact of an impatient society.
It seems like I just dusted off my cycling shoes from the last race of 2016. These days, time seems to fly by faster than Peter Sagan’s sprint. That same speedy sprint that I wish I had at least 50% of. That crazy fast sprint that will get me back in the game – it’s race season! Wait, already?
You’ve got to be kidding me.
Oh my 2016, you’ve been a stinker haven’t you?? Well, to be honest – lately it seems as if every year has it’s share of woes and accomplishments. We’ve seen more economic issues, social polarization sprung forth from politics (biking and politics don’t mix), good vs. greed in the Dakota’s … and crazier traffic than ever before. I’m even afraid to get on the busy streets in my car – much less on a bike!