Photos by Bob Rainville Jr.
We are people in otherwise responsible positions with predictable lives in which we are used to guiding events to our will, who now, voluntarily subject ourselves to the elements, forces of nature and hard realities, of riding at the edge of the envelope of our abilities, physical power and endurance, in a chaotic and not really predictable, or controllable, situation together. There is a reason.
We can talk all about the activism of the experience: our ancestors for thousands of years derived their existence from “the hunt”, in which they exposed themselves to the rigors and dangers of the natural and unpredictable world.
We can talk about worship: the sheer beauty of the natural world in which nature speaks to us in the universal language of sun and sky and wind and waterfall, and touches our soul.
We can talk about the physical challenges our bodies were made to meet and are missing in our daily lives: The opportunity to push oneself beyond ones known powers and skills, and the cleansing simplicity of maximum effort.
We can talk about energy expenditure: feeling the recoil of our hearts pounding at 180 pumping 20 quarts a minute through our dilated capillaries, our lungs taking in 20 gallons of frosty air and expelling 20 gallons of vapor a minute, steam rising from our beaded sweaty powerful legs into the frosty air.
We can talk about the simplicity of a single task in our otherwise complicated lives.
We can talk about, what I like to call ‘The Ride’.
We can talk about bonding: in this age, which abounds in texts tweets and facebook, we rest comfortable and sure in the knowledge, that no matter what happens to any one person or piece of equipment, during the ride, we will get through this together and come out together and share whatever knowledge and skill and materiel we have to do it. We will solve problems together, like a tire lever and duct tape, splint for a dislocated thumb.
We can talk about fear: and meeting it in a direct and simple fashion, when the rest of our life is filled with indirect and nebulous issues that are difficult to confront.
We can talk about focus: On the downhill, the absolute necessity to eliminate distractions, mental diversions and lack of focus in which we normally live our daily lives and focus entirely on what we are doing.
We can talk about spilling blood and its cleansing effect of washing us free of the fear of our mortality and of death that makes us hide from life.
We can talk about the transcendental experience: The inner calm that comes when we have our weight back and loose on the screaming downhill and the bike is everywhere in front of and below us, our eyes and muscles communicating and adjusting faster than we can think, adapting to the events that come faster than any conscious mind can respond, and yet we are floating loose and still and free and calm in the midst of chaos – more free than we can ever remember feeling before.
That’s the Ride – and the Ride Sets us Free
It is moments like these that make up the very substance of life itself. But when you talk about this, your friends that don’t ride, will look at you a little funny. They will not understand. They will try to dismiss these experiences, which can not be surrounded through words alone, The Ride is difficult to put into terms, or experience through language.
Nothing we can say, can compare to the doing of it.
Felices Caminos Amigos