I have been in a rut for a few years, and I know it. I do similar things with similar people without looking much outside my comfort zone. Sure I go on trips here and there, but when it comes to social interactions, I’m pretty much a one trick pony. Some of that has to do with the fact that I am anti social by nature. You wouldn’t know it upon meeting me, but I’d much rather be alone just about any day of the week. The other factor is that the small circle of friends I do have, is really fucking great. We get along so well either on the trail or at the pub, that there isn’t much reason to hang out with many other people. Recently I had an ex-girlfriend tell me that my crew of friends is actually really intimidating to new-comers because we are so close. I had no idea, but I can see where she is coming from and it got me thinking.
I have decided that I’m going to make an effort to get out of this rut and try new things. Even if those new things make me feel uncomfortable. They would still be bicycle related, so it wouldn’t be that big of a leap, but a leap nonetheless. I already know that racing doesn’t work for me so that sent me searching for other activities. The (sub)urban cycling scene is pretty strong here and extremely motivated. I’m not really into large gatherings of skinny jeans and ironic moustaches but that seemed like the perfect scene to get me out of my comfort zone
I heard through the grape vine that there was going to be a “Coffee Outside” event in the park a few miles from my house. This would be a good first step for me. If you haven’t heard of #coffeeoutside, it’s a trend that has been going around social media for a while. It’s a pretty simple concept; you pick a meeting place and everyone rides there to make coffee and be social. Bikes and coffee are two of my favorite things. Mingling with strangers on a Sunday morning, instead of being on the mountain, is not. But I went. Despite Cupcake mocking me and calling me a hipster, and I was pleasantly surprised
I met a ton of riders from all over town that I have never crossed paths with before. There were some sweet bikes and a little coffee geek talk. I have to admit, it was a pretty cool way to spend a Sunday morning.
Conversations blended into each other and at one point I was reminded of this weekly casual ride that I have done in the past. The Car Resistance Action Party (or CRAP ride for short), happens every Tuesday night in Tempe. A casual cruise through town that eventually finishes at a local watering hole. It’s one part bike parade and one part cocktail party. Since Tuesdays are right in the middle of my “weekend” I tend to have some sort of schedule conflict. Also, once summer hits, we go racing on Tuesday nights. But I chiseled out some time and made it to one. We met up at the local bike co-op, Bike Saviours, and sauntered around the neighborhood with tunes playing and bells ringing. About 30 of us rolled a few miles before ending up at a local hotel bar. Drinks were had, the pool was used and it was a great fucking time.
This little experiment has been pretty eye opening. It has introduced me to a bunch of great people all while having some fun. Gatherings like these are happening all the time in my neighborhood and I had no idea. I just needed to pay attention or maybe remove the blinders.
As bicycles become a more accepted part of daily life in cities around the country, I feel these kinds of gatherings are essential. Bicycles may be a viable replacement for the car, but they aren’t cars. We don’t have to go down that path and be isolated in our machines, taking up space on the highway with the windows up. The windows are always down on a bicycle and you are more in touch with the environment and people around you. We are in the midst of a bicycle Renaissance and we have the opportunity to not only be traffic moving from point A to B, but to be a community. Look around the interwebs or ask your local shop. I bet there are similar things happening in your hood. Group rides, bike in movies, trips to the zoo, coffee outside… all being organized by some exceptionally motivated people. So I encourage you to give it a shot. Look outside your daily bike routine and try new things.
Keep it dirty…by