Two-Wheeled Musings: Disconnect to Connect

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By Paul de Valera

Every Thursday I ride with a couple guys that I would describe as normal white dudes. They have nice bikes, motorcycles, dune buggies, marriages, mortgages, children etc. All the things in life I want nothing to do with. I can see we are worlds apart as they snap bong loads and drink beer before the ride as they share their ideas about the world which are divergent from mine. I don’t share their substances nor their ideas, but they say I’m like a wise old owl even though I’m younger than them. That is funny I guess. They have been riding together since they were kids, wielding Schwinn Varsity bikes with BMX handlebars through vast tracks of now-developed land all over the San Fernando Valley when mountain biking was just for an esoteric few clusters of people throughout the country. In that scope of perspective, I am a relative newcomer to them and to off-road cycling in general. When I met them they had identical Klein Bicycles with 1” threaded forks and cantilever brakes, one green and one maroon. The friendly rivalry between friends had spanned for decades. Pairs of 29er Stumpjumpers came next. While I can look at myself next to these guys and not feel a connection on many levels, the shredding of trails was what we all had in common, the thing that mattered the most. I stopped looking at people and seeing how they did not fit into my world and started seeing how they could, I disconnect my own faulty worldview, setting it aside to see where things do come together. I’ve met some amazing people through a shared interest in bikes; we don’t have to connect any other way to have a connection.

Paul is the proprietor of Atomic Cycles, publisher of Chicken Head Records Zine, promoter of the Coaster Brake Challenge and purveyor of cruiser bits at genuinebicycleproducts.com. This all takes place around the San Fernando Valley in southern California. -Ed.

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