People have told me recently that I spend too much time alone. Riding around for days on end with nothing but my sleeping bag and some food, just thinking about things. Some of the things are important, some of them aren’t, sometimes I don’t even think about anything at all. But the one common theme is that all this thinking is from the seat of my bike. The only vehicle that I know of which can take you back in time and make you feel like a kid again all while making hours disappear without you even knowing. The ultimate time machine
Lately one of the topics at the forefront of my mind are the wars going on in the world. I get lost for hours in the never ending maze of questions and possible answers. Like many others out there, I have a personal attachment to this topic. My best friend from my youth, riding partner, brother from a different mother, and all around BMX shredder is over in Afghanistan right now. He has this amazing gift of sending me pictures at just the right times to help me gain perspective.
Years ago when I was ” between jobs” working retail and selling sleeping bags to soccer moms, I was a pretty unhappy guy. What does my buddy do? He sends me a picture from a firefight on the streets of Baghdad. A goddamn picture that he snapped while people were shooting at him and trying to kill him. That is a pretty interesting way of telling me to harden the fuck up. His reality was so different than mine, so much more real, I had no business complaining about my situation. My “problems” became so trivial.
This past week I was hit by a car riding home from a group ride. Nothing too serious, just a flight over the hood and I tested out the old helmet. I got off pretty lucky with no broken bones but I was banged up bad enough that I wasn’t able to ride for the past six days. You never really knew how much your life revolves around pedaling until you can’t do it. Limping through my days was driving me insane.
Just like clockwork, like that sonofabitch was spying on me, I get an email with some pictures from the heart of a war zone. Three simple images of people riding bikes.
I like to think that the first two are just every day people riding to the store for a gallon of milk, or to work for the day. Pedaling down that unpaved road with the chaos of war all around them, smelling the smellas, hearing the sounds and feeling the cool morning air on tehir cheeks before the day heats up. The third one came with a caption: “…and yes, that’s me, risking my life to ride that shitty-ass bike“. It made me chuckle. Because I know that being over there for months at a time, year after year after year the only thing he wants more than a cheeseburger and a beer is to hit a set of dirt jumps. To just lay out a big old table top and a turn down. But for now, ramping an Afghan townie off of some retaining walls will have to do. We will ride. By any means necessary.
So last night I sucked it up. I threw down some advil with a shot of whiskey to numb the pain and after six days of healing, I hit the trail. It was a glorious reunion. I couldn’t even imagine my friend going 6 months without a turn of the cranks. On my way home I mailed a letter with some DC stickers in it addressed to a forward operating base somewhere on the other side of the planet. I can’t wait to see where he puts them and I hope to share more pictures from our embedded war correspondent in the future. I know that there are a good amount of people in harms way who read this silly web site on a regular basis and I want to ride with each and every one of you some day. Get home safe.
Until then…keep it dirtyby