This past winter I spent some time pretending to be an adult and quickly discovered that it really wasn’t for me. I’d first set up camp in the frosted back woods of Alberta where I’d found a new job with a pipeline company. The job wasn’t entirely terrible - I wasn’t expected to work all that hard, we spent the majority of our days outdoors, and a generous amount of free coffee was at my disposal each day. But soon after realizing that my coworkers didn’t enjoy smiling or talking about bicycles, the dollar-bills no longer seemed to be a fair trade for my frozen toes.
So I retreated home to Kamloops and found an alternative winter job at a plywood plant. The work was remarkably repetitive and dreadfully boring, but my coworkers were all very nice individuals and the schedule was fantastic. However; there was no coffee available, no music playing, and still nobody enjoyed talking about bicycles. My interest began dwindling rather quickly. I started to feel down on myself. Like I was incapable and couldn’t function in a grown up workplace. The positions I had applied myself to were only meant to be short term projects for saving extra money over the winter, but that was beside my worries. My typical routine of daily shredding and bicycle sales is considerably more hectic, so why couldn’t I find any flow with these temporary positions?
I was troubled about it until late one night when reality suddenly dawned on me. I’m a bike bum. You would think I’d have sorted that out for myself quite some time ago, but it never occurred to me until the end of a string of night shifts spent battling caffeine withdrawals and humming my own sleep deprived songs. I’m a bike bum and I’m digging the way it rolls off my tongue. Often people enjoy using the term “bum” in a derogatory sense, and I have never been a fan of labeling things, but I’m certain this is an appropriate label for me. In a number of different ways, being a bike bum has allowed me a really rad life up to this point. So I am going to keep rolling with it, and I don’t see why that needs to change anytime too soon.
Because of bicycle bummin’ I’ve learned to live quite healthily. I get more fit and flexible as time goes on, and I’m continually learning new ways to eat healthier and find more energy. If not for my commitment to being a bike bum, I’d never have fallen in love with yoga or discovered a sense of self preservation. I’d be a real mess of a human if I’d never gotten so deep into this mountain biking thing.
Being so deep into my career as a bum has provided me with a lot of invaluable experiences. One time I was invited to camp on the side of a mountain in the early stages of winter and ride my bicycle down the scariest slopes I’d ever seen. On another occasion I visited an event in France where people gathered from around the world to celebrate shredding on big travel bicycles in the nasty Portes du Soleil mountains. On a regular basis, I have the chance to spend valuable time with the most creative people on the planet - who I am also honored to call my friends - and perform in front of their picture taking and video making machines. And in addition to these highlights, simple day to day riding around home is often more enchanting than my wildest daydreams.
Over all these years of bummin’ around with my bicycle I’ve crossed paths with some truly remarkable individuals. Some reside nearby and I consider them great friends, while others find shelter in far away worlds and are merely acquaintances. But bicycles create quick connections and build strong bonds that abolish the barriers between different people. Sometimes it can be as simple as sharing a single lap, just a few turns on a trail, and I’ll discover a friendship that lasts a lifetime.
And finally, perhaps the most exhilarating aspect of my life as a bike bum is that I’ve discovered the ability to share all of these aforementioned positives with people all around me. Through story telling, coaching camps, physically placing people on bicycles at work, and simply just living this way, I have the chance to make people smile and possibly inject a new excitement into their lives. That feels like a special task and one that I could never aspire to without being such a bum.
Now after a vision quest of a winter, I feel more motivated than ever to maintain my bum status. Although there is little in the way of a guaranteed future, I'm too damn inspired everyday to stop trying. Riding a bicycle makes me happy, standing around in the cold and stacking sheets of plywood do not. If I can go to work drinking coffee and listening to music, talking about bicycles and smiling, and being around people who enjoy the same...
I think I’ll be bummin’ around for a long, long time.
Banner image courtesy of Riff Stills
Keep up with Dylan between issues of Life In The Loops on The Kona Cog
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