Friday, January 28, 2011

Bike Family

All four members of my nuclear family are cyclists. But all my close friends are cyclists as well, and friends are family that you consciously choose.

When I started grad school in Bozeman, I was socially isolated for the first time in a long time. However, one of my fellow grads, Seth, turned out to be one of those people for whom cycling is more of a lifestyle/religion, than an activity. Seth introduced me to other Bozeman cyclists like John and Mason, these guys quickly became friends and brothers. Through my contact with these individuals I became intricately plugged in to the Bozeman cycling scene, and I formed meaningful social connections more significant than I'd known previously.

Several years ago John asked me if I wanted to drive to Boise ID for an alleycat called 'Liverdance'. He knew a Boise cyclist dubbed 'Charlie The Ninja', who would let us crash at his place for the weekend. I'm generally socially awkward enough, that I'd normally be apprehensive about hanging with some random people, in an unfamiliar town. But, these were cyclists, so I didn't give it a moment's thought. After a harrowing drive in an '84 Toyota, John and I made it to Boise, and beheld a shadowy figure, beside the road. 

I hopped out of the car, and threw my left hand up just fast enough to catch a Bud Diesel tallboy. Another tallboy was delivered to John, along with a command to 'slam those beers, and get your bikes out of the car, we've got 30 minutes before "last call"'. We did as told, and soon the three of us were racing fixies in the middle of the night, through a town I'd never been in before, to some bar. I don't remember if I even shook the guy's hand, but I do remember feeling I'd been accepted immediately into the pack. Upon reaching the bar, there was shaking of hands, drinking of whiskey, and talking of shit from people I'd never met, who treated me like an old friend, just because I was a fellow cyclist.

On another occasion, I received communication from MtnBikingGirl that she and her boyfriend were going to be in Bozeman. I didn't hesitate to offer them a futon, these people are cyclists, and automatically, I considered them family. When my roommate asked me how I knew these people, I replied that I knew them from 'The Internet', but they were cyclists. She was actually incredulous for a moment, until I reminded her that I only knew her because she is a cyclist, and her cyclist boyfriend had looked up Bozeman cyclists in order to find people to connect with when she moved to Bozeman. The irony was palpable, and beautiful.

I could recount many more anecdotes, like how SamH showed up at the Bozeman Bike Kitchen, and I knew in about ten minutes that he and I would become friends approximating brothers, or how Reuben and Alice met during bike polo, and then got married. But, the basic thesis is this, bike people are a pack, like a family. It doesn't matter if I've never met someone before, if they're a cyclist, I know in my soul that they're a member of my pack, they're family.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Oh yeh...That's right...I like to ride bikes

I'm a pretty mediocre guy, but I hang out with some really badass people. A couple years ago, I was riding between 8 and 20 miles per day, winter or summer, night or day. The last few months though, I've been in a hole, and I've barely been riding more than 3-5 miles per day.

But leading up to New Years, SamH continually expressed interest in a midnight, new year's eve bike ride. Before heading to the new years party, I made sure to outfit in suitable cold weather clothing, just in case a ride ensued, it was 17 below zero when I left my house.

The party went normally until about 11:30pm, until my wolfpack started girding for a cold-weather bike ride. We headed out, 12 strong, and did a 5 block route, and went back to the party. At this point SamH and Tom stated that they wanted to put on some real miles. A destination 2 miles away was suggested, then I threw out heading to East Gallatin Rec, about 7 miles away. The three of us seemed to think that was a good idea, and with reckless abandon, we headed out on a 14 mile ride, at midnight, in weather far colder than negative 10 Fahrenheit.

It was cold tonight, but midway through the ride, I needed to shed a layer, and I enjoyed every moment of tonight's absurdity. After reaching our destination (East Gallatin Rec) we decided to take the long way to The Filling Station for a drink, and I have to say, my Supernova E3 Triple served me well in the utter darkness of a gravel road far north of Bozeman.

What did I learn from tonight's midnight bike ride in sub freezing temperatures? I learned something I've always known, but forgot, I really really like to ride my bike, even in the middle of the night in the dead of winter. In fact, I think I enjoy riding my bike even more in the dead of winter, in the middle of the night. Bring that inclement shit!!