I can’t seem to forget a damn thing. There’s the random item or two I’ll lapse on at the grocery store sometimes but really that’s it. If I tell you I forgot something I might be lying (I am
). My mind is a trap; filled with smells, faces, and unfinished birthday texts to friends. It’s an exhausting burden that even as I get older I can’t seem to shake free from.
Since I can’t seem to forget, I can trace the origins of this to its inception back in middle school. I have probably always had this skill somewhere within me but it became fully unlocked around the same time I found bikes and more importantly the places the bicycle took me too. Each time I could pedal away from home was a new adventure that I never wanted to end. So when it did end (for supper time, homework, lawn mowing or darkness) I would replay the day over and over in my young head. Usually with my Walkman (look it up) blasting in my ears acting as the soundtrack to the beloved rerun while I spaced out, staring at my bedroom ceiling or the blank math worksheet. I appreciated this ability in my youth. It allowed me to get lost in something I enjoyed when I couldn’t actually be outside. It was a pacifier for the next time. It made me hungry for more since the feelings were fresh.
I had two close friends that I rode with everyday back then. We employed different interests and talents both on and off the bike. I was the long distance rider. I enjoyed racing and spending all day on the bike. My friends enjoyed the same, but favored being in the air more than on the ground. Our bike builds matched our riding preference. My tastes leaned towards the high post, titanium frame, racer type build while they had flat pedals, fat tires and bash guards. These diverse builds never stopped us from riding together. I am friends to this day with the two middle school guys that I discovered riding with. I loved exploring on my bike but I’m not sure how far it would have gone without those two sharing those afternoons after school and weekends with me.
As I age I am struck with how integral those early years were for me. It helped me appreciate all two wheeled disciplines and never discriminate on the trail.
Fast forward to present day. Personal distractions and responsibility have taken hold. Making the time to get out and enjoy my true love has become a special event; something I cherish and share with my closest friends. Similar to my riding companions when I first started pedaling, my present day riding partners are their own people with their own diverse outlooks and rich talents both on and off the bike. They tackle life and the trail in front of them differently.
My friend Ross is a traveler that graciously shares every place he goes with anyone willing to look and listen. His vision for storytelling is strong. For him, traveling doesn’t have to involve his bike. He’s just as content with spending weeks away from the bike as long as he’s exploring somewhere special. I feel like this makes him and his stories richer. This makes his time on the bike almost more for himself than it is for others. When Ross is on his bike he’s a master. He’s got every skill in the book on lock but he’d never say it. He is one of my favorite riders to spend a day with.
My friend Mary spends her days working outside essentially taking care of people. She works for Western Spirit as a guide for week long mountain bike trips. Mary is a coach and a leader that I have looked up to since meeting her. She is doing a very difficult job that is heavily romanticized. I know more than most what her day to day is like but even when I dream of an escape from the trappings of reality I think of following in her footsteps. You’d think that with all that time on the bike and outdoors you would be content and there’d be no need to make that time for yourself to find happiness or your center. Not for Mary. She takes great care of herself. She squeezes every drop of life out of this world and I’m constantly in awe of her drive and ability on and off the trail.
As you grow up, find a career and bring on mounting responsibility you take those personal nuggets of freedom and adventure and schedule it. You chase down that feeling of fun and do everything in your power to fill the rest of your life with things you love and appreciate. This is my constant goal and my friends around me give me hope and drive to live life for me.
We all have arrived from different locations, backgrounds and responsibilities to celebrate this common bond, the ride. And just like each of our lives the mutual enjoyment we share is complex. Different bikes, questionable line choices and individual airtime ability can separate and connect us all at once. This ability to express is what holds us to the trail. I try to never forget that.
Video by: Mind Spark Cinema
Photos by: Adrian Marcoux
Words by: Morgan Meredith
sram.com / @SramMedia