You’re always climbing in Flagstaff.
Anyone who has ridden there knows the first hour of the ride, at least, will be all uphill. You may get a brief respite during the twilight of your ride, but you’ll go back to town, take off your bike clothes, stow your ride away, and it’s all uphill again.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this because of some of the comments in various posts over the last few weeks. The idea of choosing where to live is a tough one, especially as you get older. Do you stay near the trails, and your friends, and the free-flowing booze, or do you move somewhere more affordable, where you might be able to find work and buy a house? Do you sell out for the job and the easy life? Do you drive to the trails instead of ride to them, because riding to them usually means you sacrifice so much in other parts of your life?
It’s a struggle I’ve had all my life.
So many times I chose where to live based on what I could do with my bicycle. Was this place close enough to trails that I could ride to them? Was there a bike community that was worth investing in? Can I get work in a shop if I need it? For perhaps the last decade, these are the questions that drove my decision making. Now I live in a place that requires me to drive to trails. It’s not infinitely beautiful here, and I don’t go downtown on a Tuesday night and find ten people I know who are ready to have some fun, some booze, and some talk about bikes.
I’m strangely okay with that.
I’ve had a chance to get to know my bike more personally since I’ve moved away from Flag. The riding I do is for fun, and even the fun rides stay FUN; no hotshot racers who pick up the pace to show off how they’re training to catch Lance. Just fun. Beers mid ride. Trails. Bullshit. Fun.
This is not to say, of course, that I don’t miss Flagstaff. I miss my friends there, I miss the trails. I even miss that big brown mountain staring at me from my back door. It’s an amazing place, but I got tired of climbing. I climbed on the bike. I climbed off of it. And I never got to the top. Never.
Some will call me a sellout for moving away, especially to a place that requires me to drive to trails. Call me whatever the hell you want. Call me shit-ass, but I know I wipe. I know who I am. I know why I left. Now that I’m gone, I’m doing the things I only talked about for so long. Yeah, I was THAT fucking guy.
Quick story about THAT FUCKING GUY: When I graduated from college, I had just finished writing my first novel and was working on number 2. In the meantime, I was waiting tables in a restaurant. On my first or second day in that shit heap of a restaurant in the Dirty Water, one of my co-workers—a generally nice stoner who was sometimes coherent—told me that he, too, was working on a novel.
“How far into it are you?” I asked.
He pointed to his head and said, “It’s all up here, man.”
I feel like I was that kid when I lived in Flagstaff. All talk, no do. Great plans, no follow-through. But the fact of the matter is, it ain’t a novel until it’s on paper, and you ain’t the person you want to be until you start taking steps to become that person. Put the fucking pen on a piece of fucking paper and push.
I will always love Flagstaff, but that place prevented me in a lot of ways from being who I wanted and needed to be. I’m not saying I’ve ended up in the place where I will become that greater person, but I took a step, and it was a good step. I am climbing again, but this time I feel like I might reach the top. I might find what I’m looking for. I’ll take a drive to the trailhead for that.