Is it the good weather? Or something more...
This summer, we have been riding bikes.
It was appropriate to have Patrick Brady of Red Kite Prayer here to do a book reading and discussion on his new book, "Why We Ride." His talk came on the heels of our successful completion of a wonderful weekend riding out to Mt Greylock, pedaling around perfectly beautiful farmland in Massachusetts, into Vermont and New York, then returning home--a two-night, three-day adventure.
Oh there was a lot of riding, but there was even more eating, group lunches and dinners, vistas and abundant natural beauty galore, and a wonderful massage therapist to make it all agreeable to our bodies and minds.
Everyone has their own reasons for accomplishing a ride of that length (some people rode 75 miles each way, others did 115 miles, and a group did the full ride from RSC to the top of Mt Greylock in a day - 163 miles there, 170 miles home).
I was thinking about Patrick's words (I read much of his book prior to the Mt Greylock adventure) when watching people leave here at 5:15 am for a 163 mile ride to Mt Greylock.
Why do we do this? Wouldn't have sleeping in late have been a better option that Friday morning? Of course not, otherwise, we all would have slept in. I didn't ride this year, but I did last year so I know what it is to ride all day long and finish at the top of a mountain where a warm dinner, fire, and friendly faces await.
But going in, no one knows what to expect or how it'll feel to log all of those miles, or even if it'll be possible to climb 14 -16,000 feet in a day. Is the gearing on this bike adequate? Maybe. There's support and a van to drag you to the top if there is some misjudgment involved. However, and this has to be one of the many reasons why we ride: bikes help us do things that don't seem possible and they get us to where we definitely would not have traveled otherwise.
Some people, those in and out of the cycling world have often described what we do as an "addiction." An addiction has a negative connotation. As Patrick explains, people who have an addiction push everything else out of their lives. Cycling, as he says, makes us more available to our families when we come back from a ride. It puts us in a better mood, it often is the time where it's possible to sort things out, it's quality thinking time. It's so much more than that, too. For me, it's quality socializing time. I had a very good discussion with Patrick over his inaugural Seven Cycles Airheart Bike ride which was all off-road and mostly all in Lexington.
But everyone rides differently so it's hard to say exactly what happens on a ride, it just translates to good results more often than not for those who surround us. This summer has been full of really great times and so many "highs" on the bike and off. Now we can only hope the fall lasts as long as summer did.
I've been getting asked frequently for photos and stories from Highpoint and the many other rides we've been doing. As is typical for this time of year, the moment we returned from Highpoint, we had to quickly change gears and get ready for the next set of rides, events, and Patrick's book talk. Hopefully some of these photos here help tell the story. Our Flickr album has more photos you're welcome to browse. All of the photos we post on Instagram also all go into our Flickr photo stream.
The Expedition Team has also been busy competing in the Vermont Overland Grand Prix (VOGP) and Dirty 40, both in Vermont, and a week apart. We all had so much fun at the VOGP and in Woodstock, it made a nice transition from all of the fun dirt riding we've been doing to kicking it up to race pace.
Then, at Dirty 40, having Julie Wright stand on the top spot on the podium for the Overall Women's win and Cathy Rowell on the 3rd step in the 40+ age group category, was a real highlight for the team. Why does this team exist? It's about a group of women who are into riding mixed terrain, riding hard, fast, competing, going on expeditions on bike, but, at the core of the team is that each member just loves to ride. At the end of the day, if we've had a great ride together (like the day when we went to Pac Mondadnock for 80+ hard miles), we experienced the high of a win. We didn't need to beat anyone, but we did need to love every minute of the shared expedition on our bikes - which we did.
Without skipping a beat, we're now anxiously anticipating the Honey 100 which is coming up this Saturday, September 13th. Honey embodies positive reasons to ride. They are all about taking the path less traveled, getting into the woods, experiencing the joys of being off-road and in unusual places.
Cyclocross began this past weekend and the road racing season isn't over yet. There are many events, parties, and rides coming up, too.
We'll blog more as the fall turns to winter and there is more time to reflect back and look forward to spring though we'll still be riding. My tires will be swapped out with those that have studs and a few more layers will be added. The dark, cold nights of Boston's winter are a cyclist's playground with the right attire and equipment.
In the meantime, get prepared. Remove the obstacles that might dissuade you from riding when the weather turns.
Pick up a copy of Patrick's "Why We Ride" book (we have copies on our shelves and all proceeds go straight to Patrick). His book is the fuel that helps a chilly day feel warmer, keep your well of motivation full! It will possibly add another perspective with which to wrap around your next ride that may make it feel even better, taste sweeter, and be more fulfilling.