By Jeffrey Stern
We’ve all experienced bike lust. You know, those days that your friend rolls up to your group’s adventure on a bike so new the chain is still silver, the hairs on the tires are still jutting out (assuming knobby tires here) and the frame just glistens in the sun.
Bike envy ensues.
The questions come from every which angle, “What kind of wheels did you go for?” “How does it handle?” “How MUCH did it cost?”
People reach for it, touch it and want to pick it up to see how light it feels. They get off their bike and lean it against the curb just to crouch down to get a better look at the newest steed in the club.
The first part of the ride gets hijacked by someone’s new bike. Not the worst thing, but not the best. After the first mini wipe out, rock chip or scratch to the new family member it becomes business as usual. It’s just another bike in the crowd. No better or worse than every other bike in the bunch. The allure wears off quickly.
They all have two wheels, a saddle, pedals, handlebars for steering, shifters in various spots with differing mechanisms for shifting. And more or less, they all function just about the same. Unless you’re the cream of the crop, touting professional racer status, a few pounds here or there, the 2011 version or the 2018 version are all pretty much the same thing. The graphics might change on this part or that, but in reality once you start riding you can’t tell a huge difference. A well loved, tuned and maintained bicycle rides like a bicycle. It goes where you point it, stops on a dime and delivers endless smiles year after year.
If you’re riding the right way, you’re engulfed in the experience–the wind blowing through your clothes and mud that your buddy just spattered on your face by aiming for that puddle in the middle of the trail. It certainly has nothing to do about the bike at that point and surely is all about the ride.
So, we encourage you to learn to love the bike you have. Give her (or him) a bath every so often. Give it a name to make it feel special. Get a bucket and a brush and scrub off the caked on dirt, grit and grime in every crevice. Learn the ins and outs of the steed that you spend so much time on. If something breaks, learn how to fix it. Maybe upgrade the part, or maybe not. Buy something more sturdy to replace it.
Ride your bike with pride. With each passing year that you take care of your bike and put on thousands of miles, it becomes more and more a part of you and who you are as a rider. The longer you keep it up and running, the more likely it will become a rare breed on the road. Show up to the group with a well-cared for, old school bike one day and watch the bike lust looks shift directions towards you.
“How have you kept your bike in such good condition after all these years?” you’ll probably hear.
Just smile and say, “Learn to love the bike you have.” And it will love you right back until the end of time.
By Jeffrey Stern
It goes without saying, but sometimes it still needs to be said: we’re lucky. Much of the United States offers an undeniably unique opportunity for people of all types, abilities and with varied interests to get outside and play outdoors. Whether it be aboard a bike, on foot, hanging from a rope on a rock wall, floating down a river, gliding down a wave or any other numerous adventurous activities our country is filled with endless options to pursue on a daily basis, no matter which region you reside in.
Is there any downside to living so close to such an incredible overabundance of outdoor activities? Particularly, I would argue, aboard the dozen of bike options available to us from road, touring, mountain (with its own subsets of downhill, cross-country, etc.), gravel, tandem, unicycle and more. When planning a bike related adventure, it’s absolutely insane the choices of places you can go, things you can see and ways in which you can enjoy the time spent. With life’s commitments including family, career and other responsibilities, how does one find the time to take complete (or even a sliver) of advantage of all this outdoor opportunity at their fingertips?
What’s become clear is that we’ve now seen the adventure lifestyle go completely mainstream with Generation Y. Originally the practice of only a few diehard vagabond adrenaline junkies, the van life, adventure enthusiasts living day-to-day, reevaluating their life priorities and pursuing what they want to do and just doing it is growing by the hour. Prioritizing experiences, simplicity and outdoor adventure over material things is trending upward.
No ifs, ands or buts. Live in the moment. Carpe diem, they say.
As irresponsible as it may sound to say aloud, it speaks more to a pure dedication of passion than some may think. In a world where too many accept the status quo and go through the motions, even when they don’t want to, this pursuit of the adventure lifestyle is a breath of fresh air.
Is it so eccentric to believe that the outdoor adventure lifestyle can also represent a career opportunity as well? With simplicity comes ingenuity and we see products, brands and ideas being born out of necessity. Less is more, so let’s make the less better; multi-dimensional, bomb-proof, something to last a lifetime and then another one.
We all know the power that a good ride can have on your mental state. It’s refreshing, can hit the reset button on a bad day and change your outlook on things to come. It often provides the creative spark necessary to solve a problem. Taking this to the next level and making this is your life is only natural. Happiness breeds creativity and is also contagious. When you see some smile, do you get upset and frown? No way! That would be unnatural.
In a world that can feel so rigid and constricting, adventure, and the endless quest for it just makes sense; no matter your platform, location or passion. Everyone wants to be happy, so there’s no reason to hold back. Go out there and get after it. You can be a better version of yourself and in the process, make the world a better place to live.
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.
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?
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.”
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.