Despite what's been said by others, I doubt very much that I'll be looking back on all the little things as my time here on earth is running out. I don't know about you, but I'm not going be laying on my bed at ninety years of age thinking, "Damn, that was really good leftover pizza that I warmed up in the microwave that night in July of 2001." And I won't recall who won that sports game, how The Walking Dead played out, or, as bad as it sounds, most of the more mundane times that I spent with friends and family.
I've done something really wrong if those are the memories popping into my bald head as the clock runs down. No, hopefully I'll still be coherent enough to recall those spur of the moment trips to the other side of the globe, asking out the pretty girl who had every reason to say no, and those holiday dinners where twenty-five family members crammed into the living room to eat together. I'm sure that I'll also remember those shitty nights spent sleeping under benches in faraway airports, the beautiful girl who left me behind for someone else, or the inevitable passing of loved ones. Not to get all cliche on you, but it's the highs and lows that standout, not the mediocre moments that pass without thought.
I suspect that my memories of mountain biking will be very much the same.
I'm in a position that allows me to ride my bike nearly as much as my body will allow, and I'd be a fool to not take full advantage of that fact, even to the point where it likely does more harm than good when it comes to fitness and skills. But riding as much as I do doesn't make for amazing memories week in and week out. Sure, that two-hour long spin was great, but it's probably on par with those warmed up leftovers in the grand scheme of things. Tasty, yes. Memorable, no.
I fully realize that life is full of quick spins and cleaning the cat's litter box and boring leftovers for dinner, but it's best to try and balance those more wearisome moments out with a few proper bike-related adventures every now and then so you don't end up being that one regretful, grumpy a*shole in the nursing home that no one talks to. And making some bad decisions is key to any adventure, however short it may be, so while I might not recommend filling your life with as many poor choices as some do, it is important to leave your moral compass at home every now and then.
Having done exactly that on more than a few occasions, usually with woeful results, I feel like I'm qualified to offer some advice on this front. So, here are three main points to keep in mind when making bad decisions that should leave you with both glorious and regrettable mountain bike memories.
Just Buy the Bike Already
Photo by Colourfull Production.
I know you like new bike gear, but do you like it more than electricity and running water? Bills are boring, mountain bikes aren't, so just go out and buy that damn bike that you know won't make you a better rider but that you're yearning for more than that Oreo Blizzard. Then ride your new bike to Dairy Queen and get yourself that Blizzard as well... I promise you that it'll feel so much better than making a more responsible and infinitely boring decision that you're going to make 99.9% of the time anyways. Besides, you work hard (or at least go to work on a semi-regular basis) and deserve a reward of some kind, so why don't you treat yourself. I know for a fact that they won't turn your power off until you miss four months of bills, by the way.
Look, I'm not telling you to share needles to save money or to drop out of high school to pursue a rap career, but I am saying that having to use a lighter to warm up your canned Stag chilli for dinner might be worthwhile if you have that dream bike to ride the next day. Choose Unrealistic Goals
Shit talking and then backing it up with skills and fitness only means that you're an a*shole, but there's really nothing wrong with talking a big game and then failing spectacularly. Set a major goal with that in mind, and be sure to share your ambitions all over Facebook while tagging as many of your riding buddies as you can. The key here is to not only aim for something that's pretty much unattainable, but to also be completely nonchalant about your unreasonably high expectations of success: ''Iditarod? Pppffft, I got that shit!
," Or maybe, ''I know the Tour Divide is long, but you just gotta keep pedalling, right
?'' No one cares that you worked really hard to lose five pounds before bathing suit season, finally got promoted to being a certified Subway 'Sandwich Artist', or are getting married for the second time. Assuming that you can ride your bike 800,000 miles (I imagine that's how long it feels) from Canada to Mexico is really something, though, even if you only make it to the first Holiday Inn you see before calling time.
People want to be inspired, not let down, so they'll ignore your eventual failures. Plus, just think about what would happen if you actually did come through on one of your crazy plans!
Set Aside your Health and Well-Being
Photo by Margus Riga.
I'd say that the most important thing you need to start doing is to stop caring. Not just about what others think about you, but about your general health and well-being. Common sense says that you shouldn't smoke electric lettuce while riding your bike or fill your bottle with Fireball, or that you should turn around because it's getting dark and you're still an hour away from the top of the mountain, but where would people like the Titanic's captain and the guys who came up with Crystal Pepsi and the Chevy Chase's talk show be if they listened to their inner voice? Sure, they'd have the respect of their peers and the knowledge of a job well done, but none of that crap makes for an interesting story.
Your goal should be to come home just before your significant other dials up the local search and rescue group to come track you down; you should definitely roll into the jump or drop that you know you're not quite ready for; you should probably ride under the influence of something or other. Maybe don't do all three of those things on the same ride, however.
Don't get me wrong, because going out for a 'warmed up leftovers' kinda ride is still so much more rewarding than what most of the non-cycling schmucks do in their spare time, but it's not going to hurt to be a little irresponsible now and then when it comes to your two-wheeled adventures. Or maybe it is going to hurt, but that's fine, too.