Category Archives: Rando Reflections

Why Write About Bicycling

As I was padding around the Mall on a meditative lunch run, I pondered what keeps me writing about time spent on my bicycle.

I reflected on how I ride to experience the many sensations that cycling evokes, not just the physical, but those in my mind as well. Often my writing is an attempt to meld the two together on paper.

In other instances I’m feebly trying to articulate my feelings in hopes of understanding myself a little better. Given how long it took me to write that last sentence, I’m realizing how difficult this can be.

Writing about bicycling is how I capture fleeting, yet personally significant, moments from my life’s narrative in order to give them more permanence.

Last year around this time, I interviewed the people behind some of my favorite bikey blogs and asked them a similar question. Why write about bicycling?

As you might imagine, while everyone shared a passion and interest in cycling, their answers varied. People blogged as a creative outlet and because they liked the process of writing. Some saw their blog as a tool for self-discovery.

Others wrote to highlight a particular geographic area or to inform readers about a certain ride or route. For some, writing a bicycling-themed blog became a way to share experiences and connect with others who also liked to ride.

Re-reading these interviews stokes the flames of my desire to write. Due to other activities in my life right now (one of them being winter), I have not been writing as frequently about my bicycling activities.

I’ve also been going through a time where I’m more interested in reading other people’s writing so I’m just letting that happen. It’s great, actually.

When the time is right, I’ll write more about my riding narrative again. In the meantime, if you have any bike-centric blog recommendations, I’d love to hear them.

Also, if you write about bikes, tell me– why do you choose to write about bicycling?

2015 Question Marks

January– a cold month prone to dreary days and shades of brown on all sides– is generally an optimal time for me to hang out inside and ponder big ideas for the year ahead.

Usually at least two or three appealing active undertakings grab me and won’t let me go. Last year those big doings were our two-week Colorado tour, the Appalachian Adventure 1000K, and my bike tour-marathon combination in Harpers Ferry.

A year falls into place under the umbrella of these bigger scale activities, and free time is dedicated to condition the body and mind so events might be enjoyed and not endured.

I like shaping years this way. Felkerino and I share a few common goals that we work toward together. Big activities give me long-term structure, and I have concrete milestones to anticipate and hopefully achieve.

Running at sunset

This year is starting out strangely for me, as I’m not seeing anything significant calling my heart and legs. I hope to ride the brevets, but I’m on the fence about PBP. I’d like to complete at least two marathons this year, but what else is out there? I don’t know.

I’ve jotted down a bike tour, but as to where it will take place? I’m not sure. I’m not setting any mileage goals, but plan to ride and run regularly and continue my commitment to active transportation.

Small goals occupy my mind, many of which have little to do with riding or running– eat healthy, prepare my own lunches, reduce sugar and alcohol consumption, return to regular strength training, and fully engage in my work.

These are not small goals, exactly, but rather the type that require more rigorous daily attention. They have a more general purpose of improvement to my overall health and well-being.

As I muddled through this post I had an “Aha!” moment. Maybe I don’t have to have grand bicycling or running goals for 2015. Who cares? They can be question marks for now, while I attend to the smaller-scale activities that demand my attention.

Felkerino and I will figure out PBP in the next month or so. We love being outside on our bikes and always manage to find places and time to bike tour. Running is my meditation. I will continue to do it, whether or not I write down a specific goal about it.

Question marks are okay. Question marks mean I’m taking my time. I’m open to possibility.

PBP 2015: To Go or Not to Go?

The turning of the calendar to 2015 also means the arrival of a “PBP year.” Paris-Brest-Paris, the most heralded, historic, and international of all grand randonnees now peeps its head around the corner and beckons to us randonneurs, a mere eight months away.

I thought that deciding on a return trip to PBP would take little internal debate. I would set my sights on it, no matter what. Yet, as of this writing, I feel mixed. Like the self-help books taught me, I drafted a list of pros and cons to aid my decision-making. Continue reading PBP 2015: To Go or Not to Go?

The Wheelman’s Song

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have noticed that I’ve been perusing old issues of The Wheelman and Good Roads.

Both magazines were publications of the League of American Wheelman, which is now the Bike League, and date back to the late 1800’s, when people’s fascination with the bicycle was just beginning to take hold in the United States.

The excitement and novelty of riding a bicycle permeates these editions. From tour recounts to illustrations and poems, men (mostly men, as women are unfortunately largely absent from these publications) unabashedly adored bike riding.

An example of this appreciation for the bike is found in the poem below, “Wheelman’s Song, ” written by Will Carleton in 1884. It seemed a fitting way to end one year and help inspire the next. Continue reading The Wheelman’s Song

Hard Reset

I came over to this computer intending to write a Coffeeneuring Challenge update (entries due this Monday!), but instead I’m pondering other matters– small changes in my own life that have altered my daily routine and energy levels for the past few months.

One month ago– though it feels longer– I completed my second marathon of October, the Marine Corps Marathon. It was a stimulating event that turned out to tip my emotions and fitness into unexpected fatigue. I lost most of my enthusiasm for riding and running, and ate too much during the lull.

I fell out of balance, which sometimes happens to me after a period of intense activity.
Continue reading Hard Reset

Contemplative Fall

Recollections of the harvest and farmers working fields long past sundown. Walks across campus, heavy book-filled backpacks on our shoulders, feet drifting through drying leaves. The donning of long sleeves to absorb the chill of mornings that advise of even colder times to come.

Buggies and bike in Harrisonburg

It’s odd how this time can feel like a stopping point. The end of one cycle, and the beginning of another. Continue reading Contemplative Fall

Talking, Planning, Doing

Anything is possible to achieve on the internet. Talk is the only requirement. I’m thinking about riding insert whole lots of miles here this year. I’m planning to do insert impressive event here. Articulated aspirations can make us heroes in our own minds.

Planning also has its place. I’m planning to do insert impressive event here. These are the steps I’ve planned out to get me to the starting line. I’ll be sharing my journey with whoever will read or listen to me over the next few months.

Doing is another matter. Doing is where the talk means little and planning is put to the test. During the doing, aspects that couldn’t be planned for are thrown in, just to make insert impressive event here even more exciting and unforgettable.

Continue reading Talking, Planning, Doing

Chasing Mailboxes: The Pursuit of Something More

Where does your energy go? What do you choose to pursue? Does each day pass in a blur of routine, or do you save a sliver of time to wonder about the existence of something deeper? You don’t know what the something deeper is, exactly, and you are not convinced it is a thing.

You hold onto an optimistic belief that if you go out in the world, if you work out, read more, eat better, if you try and stretch yourself in some way, eventually you will find it. Your personal pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The sense that your something deeper is out there helps you wake up each day.

Continue reading Chasing Mailboxes: The Pursuit of Something More