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A Radical Thought

This is my radical idea, my soapbox to stand atop and my sword to fall upon. This is my idea to change the world. These are words that have never been uttered but henceforth and forever now we will remember this moment as the moment the eclipse blinked, the sky shuttered, and the collective consciousness of our lambasted and destitute society leapt forward in time by entire centuries. One sentence, entire centuries. A bold claim radically held up by such bold words. Are you ready? Here they are.

Stuff should be used. // Bikes should be ridden.

There is no value in holding onto a bike that is depreciating anyways and letting it sit and gather cobwebs in the garage. Bikes should not be expensive and therefore guarded from use. If a bike is so nice that the owner does not want to let anyone else ride it, the bike is too nice to be owned by that person. They should own cheaper and more utilitarian bikes. People guard their stuff too diligently, hawking and hemming and hawing over small scratches and chain wear and spots of dirt. Bikes are held too highly esteemed, as if they’re precious artworks, as if specific ones hold any sort of unique value. A bike is a bike is a bike. Some are lighter and faster, some have fancy suspension, some have seats that go up and down by the touch of an electronic button. All go. Bikes are tools to go somewhere. To see something. To feel something. Ever since we started putting brands and unique parts and marketing departments behind that simple fact, we started focusing on the differences, the money making individuality of thisvs that,and losing out on the things that connect us all in the first place. We are the people that ride bikes because we understand they give you so much back when you put something into them. We know the feeling of cold rain on our faces at 30 miles an hour, of road rash, of buzzing legs on the couch after a long day in the saddle. We know jumps and skids, wheelies and stoppies. We know the warmth of a cup of coffee and the safety of a tarp on an overnighter, ten miles from home, leaving just for the simple reminder that we always can. We are cyclists. We ride bikes. We own bikes. They all should be ridden. 

I have friends that own fancy bikes that would never let people take them out. My family even has several cars that they never drive, simply because they like the cars so much they don’t want to drive them. I think it’s a crime, a waste, stupid, illogical and nonsensical to own stuff we don’t want to use because it’s either so nice or we’re so attached to it that we can’t let it go. The problem with materialism is it distracts from the overall purpose of the material in the first place. Bikes are made to be ridden, not to be coveted. The only bikes that I think shouldn’t be ridden are the ones that belong in museums of course. Recently I saw Franco Ballerini’s Paris Roubaix winning bike on display, complete with mud and numbers and the same old Campy 9 speed. Oh man it was so cool. Coolest bike I’ve ever seen maybe. It made me want to go endure hours of mud for the joy of being dirty. I wanted to ride that bike so badly. 

Cycling of course has changed my life. The freedom it has granted me, the self expression and intrinsic investigation, the places I’ve gone because of it. I’m sure without cycling I would be a less definite, less understanding, less complete version of myself. I don’t want to say I owe everything to the bike, but seen from a certain angle, I do. So I’m aggressive, (maybe too much so) when trying to get people on bikes. If you’re around me and want to go on a ride I will strap the helmet and push you out the door myself. I’ve always let people ride my bikes during my days of racing, but it was less obsessively. I felt more guarded of my bikes back then. They were my tools for racing, fancy and light and fragile. It was a special relationship I had with my race bikes. They knew me in my most desperate moments. To let someone ride those bikes was an invasion of my privacy. 

But now, without racing, with the bike being entirely a tool for exploration, I’ve been so energized to loan these things out, to get people out there, to let them experience this thing that has made me…me.I’ve been fortunate of course to have bikes, to now have several, and now for about two months to have a couple Hudski’s in my rotation, perfect in their balance of the overall, do it all,get ‘er donebike. So I’ve been keen to loan them out and let people ride them. Mechs at the shop have ridden them, friends, neighbors, passersby. I don’t know the future of my new bikes, but I know a lot of people will sit on these saddles by the time the aluminum is recycled into another bike.

Ben rode the Doggler first, down to a point break with his surfboard to chase out this long dream of ours. It was magical. You really should read that storyhere if you still haven’t yet

My sister used it as a commuter for a while, running errands around her beautiful neighborhood in San Diego. She normally doesn’t ride. Normally I have to drag her onto a bike, but she really enjoyed riding around town. She talked about getting a bike after this, not that old steel mountain bike I normally let her ride, but the Hudski because it’s more comfortable she said. She likes the color too. She said it’s pretty.

Bo has ridden the bike on bikepacking trips and around the city and to the park. Bo has a lot of riding under her belt on all sorts of bikes but really liked the bike for it’s confident handling. We had a very lovely weekender in the south of the Netherlands and rode mountain bike trails and swam and ate frites. Oh it was so fun.

Sasha wanted to go out for their first ever bikepacking trip. They had ridden mountain bikes in the past, but since moving to Amsterdam they haven’t had a real bike. So we were put in touch and they jumped on the bike and got thoroughly exhausted after a few days of pedaling in the rain with a local bikepacking group. Sasha enjoyed the rain, the camaraderie, the mud, the camping. They’re super keen to get back on the bike and head out again soon.

Daniel is an old friend from Mexico who was in Amsterdam for a couple days. He wanted to go see the famous windmills in the north and didn’t have a bike to ride, so of course I put him on mine and sent him on his way. He was sleeping on my couch after a long night of partying together and I woke him up early. “There’s a weather window!” I said excitedly. The rain in the fall here has been horrendous, and now that the seasons are changing I’m desperate to cling to any shred of sunlight I can. He got after it, rode off his hangover, and loved the adventure. “Super chido!”He says about it all. The windmills, the bike paths, the city, the Doggler. Daniel had a great time. I told him to do an overnighter but he wanted to get back so we could go dancing again. 

I’m out on the road for a year or so, no home base, no garage and a rotation of bikes. So before I left I looked at my collection of three bikes at home and wondered what they’ll be doing all year. I had another friend from Mexico I really adored. He’s riding Alaska to Argentina on almost no money, busking along the way with an old guitar, working as a waiter. I met him in San Ignacio where he had been for a few months already, and we got along super well immediately. Liam left and headed south, I went north and back home. Right before I left for this year long trip his bike got stolen. It was a $5 second hand old steel mountain bike. I saw my old Trek, a steel touring bike I had built up nice and fancy for a long ride I had planned but never could do. A solid drive train, a Brooks saddle, a beautiful handmade frame bag, chrome bullmoose handlebars. Liam is really tall, and finding tall bikes is especially hard in Mexico. So while driving down for our surfpacking trip, I stopped and dropped it off at a friend’s place so Liam could have it. I don’t know if I’ll ever see it again. I’ve accepted I might not. But I do know that now I got someone with a flame in their chest back on the road and into a world he’s curious and excited to experience. Liam is not much of a bike person. He doesn’t know the mechanics of them, he just stumbled into bike touring when on the internet trying to figure out how to see the world on his shoe string musicians budget. He posted this video the other day, and it’s the first time I’ve seen that bike somewhere in Central Mexico. I feel a warmth in my soul knowing it’s being used, that someone is benefiting from something otherwise dormant, that the world is coming together over the simple and humbling power of the bicycle.

1 Response

Erol Orhun

Erol Orhun

October 04, 2023

This isn´t a radical thought at all, just common sense.

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