Essay: Ride more, worry less

By Jeffrey Stern

What do we know about even the most well thought out plans? Well, they more often than not don’t pan out as expected. But only if you let them derail your training, fun, life or work should they cause any concern.

We all want to ride 10, 15, 20 hours per week to be well-prepared for our long adventure weekends or races this summer. At the same time though, we know how rarely this happens. Spilled milk is inevitable in life. Sickness? Yeah, that too.

Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do.

And by nothing, we mean first and foremost don’t even bother worrying about foiled plans. It will do you absolutely no good in the short term or long run.

Work sucked this week. You stayed late every night and still can’t get ahead in the game. Zero rides, all work and no fun at all. What a drag, but you have the weekend as your salvation–there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Then you miss the early morning meet-up at the local coffee spot to head out on the Saturday training loop with your friends because the dog escaped last night, found some delicious trash that has now, 8 hours later, ended up in a steaming pile on the doormat and your 3-year-old has waddled over to it and started picking at it, inching it closer to her mouth…and now, you’re late. Well, you’re not late because no one is actually waiting anyway.

“Damn man!” You think to yourself, “I can’t catch a break even on the weekend.” After cleaning up the mess, the house and then yourself, it’s nearly 9 am and you still haven’t had your breakfast or coffee and you’re leaning to just throwing in the towel on the day’s ride.

“It’s not even worth it,” you mumble to your significant other, “I’ll just try to ride tomorrow,” you say as you sulk your way over to the couch with a box of stale cookies, contemplating a trip to the donut store for a baker’s dozen to drown your sorrow in.

But no, that’s not the answer! Even though the week may not have gone as planned and the weekend is off to a, well, less than desirable start than expected, look on the bright side: it’s spring. The days are getting longer and there’s still time to ride, albeit by yourself, but a ride nonetheless.

Time is your greatest asset and worrying about lost time is about the biggest waste of said asset as possible. On your solo ride, while not worrying about missing out, you may discover a new road or trail you’ve never been on before. You might even find another solo rider who had a similarly off week, and voila, an instant friendship is born.

The point is, you don’t know what may happen, but if you don’t give it a chance and spend all your mental power fretting about what could have been, then nothing good will ever happen. That’s a tried-and-true fact.

Throw the plans, and your attachment to the plans, right out the window so you can spend less of your mental energy worrying about what you missed, and more of it enjoying the opportunities you do have to ride, whenever or wherever and with whoever it might be.

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Connecting and converting: Finding balance in a busy world

By Jeffrey Stern

We all know them, those friends that appreciate the convenience and simplicity of integrating more bike riding into their daily lives, but rarely do it.

Why?

It’s hard to put a finger on one reason why and pin it down as the end all, be all for all of our once in-shape adventure buddies turned lazy, drive everywhere around town people. Bikes are not just for kids and we all know that. The holistic health benefits from the cardiovascular system to the release of the well known happiness chemical dopamine, make it clear: cycling and exercise in general can be addicting.

C’mon, who doesn’t want to feel happy?

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I can point to many rides throughout my life that perhaps started a bit melancholy. Maybe it was a fight with a friend, a disappointment at work or just general stress from life. Getting out the door and on my bike was the last thing I felt like doing, but was the absolutely necessary thing I needed to be doing. Not only for my heart and my head, but for my general pleasantness around other people. Moods can be contagious after all.

Too often these days, our technology driven society finds solace in a screen – from large TVs, to computers, tablets and phones (the latter getting bigger every year). We’re addicted to hits of dopamine from love through a screen; likes, comments, any type of virtual high-five you can imagine. This hooks us more than how we’re spending the time engaging with the world around us and people in our lives.

I recently read a great story about mountain biking legend Mark Weir in Adventure Sports Journal where he said empathically, “I’ll be out on a good rip with some younger guys and every time we stop for a break, they’re pulling out their phones. It makes me want to pull out my phone, but I don’t want to pull out my phone. I hate my phone. It drives me crazy. I yell at them to put their damn phones away and look at each other. Talk to each other. Communicate with each other. We can’t lose this most elemental form of being a human.”

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It’s amazing to see how quickly generations can change, molded by advances in technology, in some ways for the better, but in others not so good.

The young adults of society want to wander, not beholden to a normal job or one mountain town, but the freedom to point a compass in the direction of something beautiful and just go.

For many of us, the moments in life when we feel most fulfilled are those which find us moving towards something new; albeit a challenge, location or the unknown. Right now, the unknown is the health of the bike industry.

With more and more generations turning away from bikes to their phones and other technologies that absorb our time, where will be in ten years from now?

Stagnation amongst the users with dusty (not from the trails) tires waiting to be ridden needs to be stifled in order to help change the winds. Sometimes the best way to connect with a lost passion, is to disconnect with whatever may be currently consuming us. It’s that first step that can be the hardest, but nothing beats the wind in your face heart pumping joy of a spin around town. Except maybe bringing a friend along with to enjoy the ride. Screen time can wait, just get out and ride. Even if it’s just to the grocery store, on the cruiser bike, I guarantee you won’t regret it.

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