Expiration Dates

*This was originally posted on my other site a few weeks earlier, but I also wanted it to live here. 

———————————————————-

I never could have imagined that I would find myself back in the sweltering heat of Kansas this summer. But here I am.  A buddy needed a hand with some things so I said fuck it, bought the ticket and took the ride. Things move slower here in the summer time. The lack of topography leads me to a lot of thinking and daydreaming. It also leads to a lot of observation. Not unlike when a person looses their sense sight and they end up with super hearing. Less distracted by the visuals of every day life, they can now be purely focused on the sounds, smells and textures around them. You place me in a microscopic town on the prairie and my senses of mountains, cities and deserts are missing. I start to focus on the simplest of things around me. I notice the smells the most. The putrid smell of hoarding and mildew mixed with the aroma of stale cigarette smoke and unleashed pets. The hot grass as the morning heats up and the pleasant smell of home cooking. There aren’t a lot of hip breakfast joints around these parts.  At the days end, the sun takes longer to set around here. The horizon is below street level and the shadows of the buildings distort like a fun house mirror every evening. Long and lean with a hint of unnatural.

I have a bicycle with me. I always have a bicycle with me. But I’m not out by that one place where the trails are good. The riding here is so hot and monotonous that it feels like jogging. So I just go for a run instead. It’s something different and having to watch where I step is slightly more stimulating than staring at the white line.

At least the people are nice. I’ve had a lot of very pleasant conversations with people living such different lives than me, that I often feel like I used my passport to get here. I met a woman on the street today who was the main character in the Listener song “Seatbelt Hands”. She even called me sweetie and honey in the brief fifteen second interaction we had. I wanted to know her story. How she developed that speech pattern and what was the story behind that homemade tattoo of a star on  the inside of her wrist.

She’s the kind of lady that calls everybody baby honey, sugar, sweetie, she’s always making friends and she keeps us all locked outside her thick leather skin she always starts with a smile, it’s small and butter yellow but easier than a handshake, doesn’t like her hands touched she tans a lot, gets burnt a  lot smoking through the cartons but then gets put out so much, she’s considered a bargain she was born on the fourth of July with her hand on her heart loves america, & being patronized…

I have been listening to the world around me a lot more lately. Mostly because my fellow man has been disappointing me so much, that I just don’t have much to say about it anymore. Maybe my expectations are too high despite keeping them lower than the scars of my past. I know it is a wave that will come and go. I’m going to play it different this time and keep quiet. I’ll let that wave of disappointment and deceit break and wash to shore without me. I used to fight it but it does me no good. Telling scumbags that they are scumbags only makes you sound like an asshole. It’s no different than trying to tame the ocean. It’s a futile effort. So I say it to myself, smile and move on.

Once I stopped talking and listened more, I noticed how many people have a lot of old stories. Tales of experiences they’ve had but they will never do it again because of this and that or the other thing. They blame parenthood and money mostly. Both are weak excuses. It’s as if the fun times in their life had an expiration date and it has already come and gone. A delicious and fresh past has now decayed into a spoiled future, rotting and waiting to be thrown away. It doesn’t matter if they are 25 or 65, most people tend to be living in the past. I love a good story more than most, but I am also addicted to the daily pursuit of making more. Most people around me appear to be addicted to the opiate of complacency.

I go over that cliche mountain pass into the second half of my life this week. This may in fact be my midlife crisis rant. But I think I have been in that crisis since I was twenty two. I’ll be damned if I am going to stop making stories. I am just getting started, motherfucker. I will not rust. I will not rot away. I will not expire early.

Talk less. Listen more. Make new stories. Keep it dirty…

Smash Hearts

I have never been a big fan of physical contact with people outside my immediate family. If you come in for a handshake, I’ll probably give you a high 5 or preferably a knuckle pound. I am not a germophobe, I’m just not really into it. Growing up in a lower middle-class mill town, surrounded by various machismo immigrant populations (my family included) showing emotions as a man wasn’t a thing. Not that it was directly discouraged, it just didn’t exist. As I grew older I started to notice the institutionalized homophobia around me. Men shouldn’t express emotions to each other for fear of ridicule or being somehow less of a man. That never really jived with me but I played along.

As I became more interested in alternative forms of sport, I evolved away from homogeneous playing fields of traditional stick and ball sports. Instead choosing to dive head first into skateboarding, mountain biking and climbing. This opened up a whole new world of friends and experiences. Like tends to find like and I soon met people from all walks of life, race and religion that shared my obsessions. I started to develop amazing bonds with an extremely diverse group of people. International travel, trips to the hospital, run-ins with the cops, hard fought summits, and multi-day bike rides tend to bond friends a little more than your traditional ball fields and locker room banter.

Over the years some of these relationships have become so close that the only thing keeping us from being brothers and sisters is the lack of shared parents. One lasting brotherhood is my buddy Joey. A mountain of a man, built more like a bouncer with an outward appearance of a motorcycle gang affiliation, he has become one of my better friends in this world. Since the first day we met, he has greeted me with a hug. I expressed my discomfort in the situation and he was not hearing any of it.

“I’m from the desert and we do things differently here. You are going to have to get over it, man.”

At first glance, he isn’t the kind of person you disagree with, so I kept my mouth shut. But there was no hiding the apprehension on my face.

“Plus, when you walk around all day looking like me, it’s pretty fun to give out random hugs.”

We had a good laugh and have been friends ever since. I reflect on that moment a lot when I have rough interactions with people. I wish I could be more like Joey. I want to squash my inner critic and my conditioned response to shy away from human contact. This year I decided to force a change. If the bad habits were formed out of repetition so can new habits be formed. I made a New Years resolution to simply hug more people. I will throw caution to the wind and deal with all the awkward moments. I’m pleased to say that, now deep into the second half of the year, it has been a success.

Saying hello and goodbye gets a hug. Sweaty, muddy or chalk covered hands? It doesn’t matter, you get a hug too. I’ll grab you and say it’s good to see you. Because it is. Or I’ll tell you that I missed you, because I did. I’ll grab a little longer and tell you to have a great trip and be safe, because that is what I truly wish for you. This new habit has dramatically changed the way I approach my day. It has maybe even made me a little bit better person. The world seems like a fucked up place right now and handshakes aren’t going to save us any time soon. But maybe, just maybe, grabbing a fellow human and smashing hearts together will make a difference.

The Greatest Beer of 2015

DSC_9825

I was sitting on the porch with a buddy talking about beer. It’s a favorite topic of ours and we can carry on for hours. At one point he asked me what was the best beer I’ve had so far this year. I hemmed and hawed and ultimately couldn’t come up with anything that stood out enough to be the best. The conversation moved on to other things but the best beer question was stuck in my head. I’d be hard pressed to tell you what the best beer I’ve had in any given year, except for 2015. That was a special one, let me explain.

I was six days into what would turn out to be an eleven week bike tour from Colorado to North Carolina. With the cool hills of Colorado behind me, I was now significantly into crossing Kansas. I had underestimated just how goddamn hot the prairie could be in July. A steady crosswind blew hard against my left side all day, every day. It offered no respite from the heat. Some days it blew so hard that I would tack across the road like a sailboat just to try and get some advantage. Hot, humid and windy. This is what I imagined being insides somebody’s mouth must feel like. It was wheat harvesting season and various farm equipment moved about all day.  Combines lumbered through the fields and pickup trucks filled with workers drove by in every direction. A steady flow of big trucks heading out to the fracking fields passed too close every time. Why do they always have to pass so fucking close? Kansas, the breadbasket and gas pump of middle America.

Shady spots were hard to find along the road. Even with the shadows getting a little longer in the late day sun, it was often a few miles in between patches of shade. I was roasting on the bike all day. My route took me purposely out of the way, where towns were a little further apart. I chose this route because it was completely different than the Adventure Cycling route. Not there was anything wrong with their way, I just wanted to meet people who may have never seen bicycle tourists before. Get to to know them without preconceived notions and have, what I considered, a more full experience. One of the experiments and goals of this ride was simply to wave and say hello to everyone I saw, just to see what happens.

I couldn’t tell ya exactly where I was at this point of my trip. My memory isn’t that good. Unfortunately most cliches are based on truth and everything really does look the same in Kansas. But one benefit of the homogeneous landscape was that it gave me plenty of time to think. I thought a lot about the demise of the family farm as I passed one factory farm and stock yard after another. I pedaled through towns that were still dots on the map but were nothing but modern day ghost towns with only a few scattered residents. Staring down at the white line for hours I would get angry, then a little sad and often lost in my thoughts as I pondered just about how complex the issue really is. The Walmart of the prairie, crushing the little guy in the name of progress. Manifest Destiny, the sequel.

It was later in the day and I saw a farmer a ways off in a field inside his combine. I waved, and to my surprise he waved back. I didn’t think to much about it and kept staring down at that damn white line. About 20 minutes later, a pickup truck pulls along side me and flags me down. We both pull over and to my surprise, the farmer from a few miles back jumps out. An older guy, maybe in his fifties with round face and a bald head under a poorly fitting baseball cap.

“Saw ya back there and thought you could probably use a cold beer. I figured since there ain’t no turns on this road for 12 more miles, you’d be pretty easy to track down.”

I reply “No shit? That would be great!”

Then he reaches into a cooler in the truck bed and throws me a can. I stare at it for a long second. It was an ice cold Keystone Light. Knowing where I was in the world, I quickly scan the can and my facial expression must have changed just enough for him to say:

“Yeah, I know it’s 3.2% but I can drink those things all damn day and still drive. So it’s OK by me!”

It’s more than OK. I crack the can and poured it down my throat. It was so damn cold that it made my chest hurt. I winced and coughed a little bit in between gulps. We both had a good laugh. He asked me where I was heading and I said North Carolina. He just laughed again and said “That’s a hell of a long ways away. Good luck, buddy”. Then he got back in his truck, did a u-turn and drove back to his field.

I was so caught off guard by the whole situation that I failed to even get the man’s name. The thought of him stopping his combine, walking to his truck and driving down the road to give a cold beer to a stranger is amazing. I owe a farmer in western Kansas a beer some day.

So there ya have it. The best beer of 2015, and maybe to date, was a 3.2% Keystone Light while standing on a country road in the middle of Kansas. Beer elitists and arm chair Cicerones will scoff, but you had to be there…

Lunch Break

Every Tuesday I pedal away from the office and treat myself to some BBQ at the joint about a mile down the road. It’s a nice escape from brown bagging it at my desk. Why Tuesdays? The BBQ joint originally lured me in with cheap cider specials and mediocre beans, but I have always had an affinity for celebrating Tuesdays. They are the forgotten days. Not a buzz-killing bummer like a Monday and not as optimistic as a “hump day”. It’s like the forgotten middle child of the week.

The ride over there is short but it can be a little spicy. Two busy streets intersecting with no bike lane or shoulder. One of those situations where you have to be traffic just to stay safe. In less than a mile I was yelled at by some redneck about splitting lanes and some basic soccer mom tried to scold me for not wearing a helmet. Not being the biggest fan of unsolicited advice, I arrived at my lunch spot a little worked up. I sit down at the bar and order a whiskey-ginger with some beans and greens. Whiskey because I was mad. Well whiskey because my standards are low.

Normally I use this lunch time to listen to an audio book or read the news. Pretend I’m a productive member of society and all that. But lately I have been listening to a lot of Gram Parsons in my alone time. I already have a whiskey in front of me, might as well put my headphones on and crank up the tunes. You ever wonder who that guy is at the end of  the bar sipping whiskey, listening to tunes and grinning like a creep? Now you know.

It’s bitter cold outside, even at noon, and it snowed a little last night. Just enough to dust the tops of the brown grass and make a little ice in the gutter. I look outside from my seat at the bar and the snow is blowing around like sawdust on the street. It’s the kind of dry snow you see in the high desert. The snow and the tunes take me away to memories of bitter cold days spent wandering around Joshua Tree. Sleeping in the dirt, dodging rangers, climbing rocks until there was no skin left on my hands and then riding bikes to all the remote corners of the desert while the skin grew back. A special place that shaped me as a man. A place where Gram’s buddies tried to cremate his body to honor is final wish. They fucked it up and got caught. But damn, those are some good friends. They don’t make them like that very often.

I’m not ready to go out in the cold yet. Emmylou is singing about baptisms. Better order another drink.

My bike is outside leaning against the window and the wind blows just hard enough to make it move. The bartender hears the brake lever screech on the glass and she gives me a death stare. Saying with her eyes “How man times do I have to tell ya not to lean that thing against the window!”. I take advantage of the eye contact and order another. She smiles.

I pay my tab and throw the rest of my drink in my water bottle. Sufficiently warmed from the drink, I unzip my jacket and let the cold hit my tshirt as I stomp on the pedals. Gram is still singing in my ears. I sing along like a madman cutting through parking lots and hopping curbs to avoid the car bound people. Nobody yelled at me this time. If they did, I didn’t hear them. The desert winter might be two thousand miles away but it is also right here with me on this ride. I’m on a time machine. An hour ago I was in Appalachia and now I’m temporarily in the Mojave. I smile and squint into the sun. Damn, I rode too fast. I’m almost there and “Return of the Grievous Angel” isn’t over yet. I swerve to take a longer bum trail across the train tracks. Standing between the rails, I slam what’s left in my water bottle. The song hits that final verse:

Oh but I remember something you once told me
And I’ll be damned if it did not come true
Twenty thousand roads I went down, down, down…

It’s time to play grownup for four more hours. Then I will do it all again on the ride home.

Burn my body in the desert on a Tuesday.

Keep it dirty…

 

Photo Safari: Filth

Autumn, feels dirty to me. Especially here in the southeast. The falling leaves littering the ground everywhere combined with the constant moisture and smells of mold just feel filthy. Tourist come from far and wide to ogle at the decay. Crawling from their suburban Florida and Georgia homes just to drive through the hills and have a look. I prefer the smell of dust and generally tidy nature oft he open desert. But this new found filth has me curious. I set out on a little bike ride to track down some photos of the decay. They do a pretty good job of keeping it out of sight in an affluent place such as Asheville. But it’s out there. The filth is always there.

 

DSC03562DSC03569DSC03570DSC03572DSC03577DSC03585DSC03599

The booze don’t care

I found myself in El Paso, TX the other day. I like that town. It has character and some damn good mountain biking. I was only passing through, but I decided to head on over the line to Juarez, Mexico to ride the Chupacabras trails. No pedal through Juarez is complete until you stop for a few drinks and I must abide.

I have developed a soft spot for Sotol over the years and West Texas/Chihuahua is the place to find it. In all its peppery, smokey gut rotting goodness. I love every drop. If you ask enough barkeeps in Juarez, you are bound to find some unique homemade goodness lurking behind the counter.

I’m a creature of habit and I find myself frequenting one bar in particular that was shown to me a few years ago. An unassuming whitewashed building with a narrow swinging wooden door. The inside is covered floor to ceiling with old Playboy centerfolds lit up by a purple and red neon glow. There is only enough room for maybe 25 people and it feels like home. I belly up to the bar at the last remaining stool and realize I still have my helmet on when the bartender Chuey looks at me funny. I haven’t been here in over a year and he greets me like an old friend. I order my round. A Sol and a sotol. It’s almost guaranteed to spark up a conversation at the bar when a gray bearded gringo is sniffing around for Sotol, and this time was no different.

dsc02037-550x367

 

There is some guy in the back corner making a scene, thinking he is some kind of baller and ordering rounds for the entire bar. I hate those guys and I instantly regret sitting down. A small crowd has developed around him. As tends to happen when you are handing out free booze. He is holding court in his khakis and tucked in polo shirt. Talking over the music about how great he is in one way or another to his newly purchased friends. Then he shouts at me and the barkeep saying that my round is on his tab. I nod and raise my shot to him in appreciation. A seat opens in the corner and I relocate to the shadows where I am more comfortable. The old timer to my left starts talking to me about my drink of choice. Then, from left field, asks me “You are American right? So what’s up with this Trump thing?”

As a rule, I don’t mix politics with booze. So I gave him the most polite and concise response I can think of “I don’t know, man. I didn’t vote for him”

We made a little more small talk then, as he was paying his tab, he dropped some bar stool wisdom on me.

“Sotol doesn’t care what side of the line you are from”

Salud! 

Kathmandu at Night

I’m just going to say it right from the start, I like Kathmandu. I love all its dirty, grimy, crowded, noisy mess. It has as much character as any major city anywhere in the world and is filled with sights, sounds and flavors that I have never experienced. If you travel to Nepal, chances are you will pass through Kathmandu along the way. For most travelers, myself included, it is a place to sleep off the jet lag, get supplies, permits and visas before moving on into the mountains. I have noticed that it’s become somewhat fashionable amongst travelers to hate on Kathmandu. Much like somebody from the country would hate on a big city. I feel that is a lazy opinion, but I can see where they are coming from. The difference between the peace and beauty of the Himalayas versus the mayhem of Kathmandu is staggering. The mountains have crisp clean air, blue glacial rivers and livestock quietly grazing about in fields of Marijuana. The city has busses and scooters belching sooty exhaust, a river that more closely resembles an open sewer and cows eating piles of garbage in the street. It’s enough to drive any nature lover crazy. But there is just something about Kathmandu that draws me in.

This past trip to Nepal, I had a lot of down time in Kathmandu between trips to the mountains. I found myself going for a lot of rides and walks through town. Getting lost in the maze of narrow streets and taking in as much as possible. Being a night owl by nature, I most of these walks happened after dark. It is at night when Kathmandu transforms. By 7pm there is a lot less traffic, people are already where they need to be. The sound of laughter and conversation rivals, and sometimes overtakes, the revving engines and honking horns. After 10pm, the shops and cafes are closing and people are heading home. By midnight, the city is nearly silent. Only the barks of stray dogs and the occasional scooter motor can be heard. Sometime around 2am there is a sweet spot where it’s as if time has stopped. The streets are post apocalyptic and silent, it is a special time to be awake. By 5am, the city is coming back to life. The sounds of prayer bells greet the rising sun and the cycle starts all over again.

I’m not a photographer but I like to make a lot of photos. Here is a sampling of what my camera saw while walking around Kathmandu at night.

Boredom is My Muse

So far, this little writing experience has taught me a whole lot. I’m only five posts into this project and I already skipped the past two weeks. Sure, I could have recycled some drunkcylist post or phoned in some kind of Buzzfeed style list, but I want to make better stuff than that.

This web site has already been extremely educational. It has tought me that I only write when I am at rest. I can only get thoughts out of my head when I’m home, in between trips and generally bored. If I’m doing it right, I am too busy and/or too tired to make any kind of quality words while traveling. Journaling when I am really in the thick of traveling has never worked. So I try to remember everything that occurs and hopefully not forget about it until the next time I’m bored. I have the utmost respect for my friends who are professional writers, photographers and journalists. Being able to crank out creative work while still being immersed in their hobbies and passions is unfathomable to me. It is only when I finally stop, that I can quiet my brain and reflect on all of the things that have happened to me.

I rode my bicycle across the country this summer while towing a trailer. I brought the kitchen sink. A two person tent, a comfy air mattress, all of my camera gear and even my laptop. The idea was to shoot as many photos as possible, every day. Then when I made camp, journal all of the stories and edit the photos from the day. This was great in theory when I was planning the trip. I envisioned Hemingway-esqe moments in my tent, titanium mug of whiskey by my side, tapping away at the keyboard making a classic memoir. Singing the praises of slow bike travel across my great country. In reality I would eat some food and fall asleep half dressed, using my unpacked sleeping bag as a pillow because I was too tired to even take it out of its stuff sack.  But when the pedaling was over and I finally arrived at my destination, the thoughts and words flowed out of me. I would sit on my couch with numb fingers and toes, pecking away at the keyboard. My body was too worn out to play but my mind was wide awake. I started to remember all of my interactions with people along the way. Memories like bad weather on the plains and bike troubles in Illinois all finally started to rise to the surface of my mind. Compared to the previous months, I was now bored. And boredom is my muse.

DSC_2601
quiet time

When I return home from a trip, I tend to be anti-social and quiet for a while. I don’t do very much and I am hard pressed to leave the house for too long. I stay up all hours of the night and I sleep very little. I enjoy being awake when everyone else is asleep. I like the quiet that 3:00am brings, it’s good for me. There is that fine line where late night turns into early morning and I find that I am most productive in that sweet spot. In what I consider to be one of the more classic TED talks, poet Buddy Wakefield says:

“If you see me being quiet, don’t ask me what’s wrong. I’m just practicing”

I seem to be practicing a lot more lately and I like the results that I see. I have been comfortable just waiting for the boredom and creativity to happen on its own. But this web site is about breaking out of my comfort zone and pushing through barriers to be creative. I just didn’t think that barrier would present itself so soon. I must jump the fence, break down the walls, and take a running leap at the obstacles in my way. I have been fortunate enough to spend the last two weeks in Arizona riding my bike and sharing stories with old friends. But being distracted and constantley on the move has left me uninspired. Burning the candle at both ends tends to only leave me with only small blob of melted wax to show for it. I will find time to be bored, to create. I will practice being quiet even though I am constantly distracted and lured in by the sirens of the road. Stay tuned. This could get weird.

The Joy of Stoop Sitting

Stoop Sitting

verb
  • 1.
    adopt or be in a position in which one’s weight is supported by one’s buttocks on a staircase rather than one’s feet

Stoop sitting is one of my favorite past time. It is 100% free and requires no accessories or special equipment. It takes nothing more than a set of stairs, a hind end and some free time. You can add snacks, a smoke or beverage if you like, but it’s not imperative. Home stoop sitting is ideal and a good stoop is the number one prerequisite when I am looking for a new place to live. Although stoop sitting is believed to have originated in major urban centers, it can be done in any environment you find stairs.

Just to be clear, I don’t have anything against front porches, I think they are just fine. They are protected from the elements and usually have rather comfortable furniture. But the view from a porch will often be obstructed by railings or shrubbery. The existence of the American front porch has been on the decline since WWII, leaving a country filled with countless stoops to sit on. They are all around us and mustn’t be ignored.

My friend Brendan once said there are only two kinds of people in this world, Soakers and Non-Soakers. He used hot springs as an example to differentiate between people who relax and people who don’t. It isn’t necessarily about relaxation. Just because you aren’t doing something with your hands or fidgeting with an electronic gadget, doesn’t mean it is unproductive. I believe that everyone is a Stoop Sitter on the inside. I like to believe that many great decisions have been made and problems have been solved from the perch of a good stoop. The world could be a little bit better place if we all practiced more stoop sitting.

Stoop sitting is for any occasion. The stoop can be a meditation room or a therapy session. It can be a great place to have that morning coffee or someplace to relax after a hard day. When you can’t afford to go to that concert you wanted to, brown bag a beverage and listen to the show from a nearby stoop. Or you finish a ride or a run and don’t want to go inside yet, post up on the stoop to cool down. Maybe you know a good stoop that faces west, wander over and check out the sunset. Or sometimes you just head out the front door and take a seat for no reason at all.

I don’t know what exactly makes this simple act so rewarding. Maybe it’s the fresh air or the comfortable ergonomics of just the right stairs. Or maybe simply zoning out and watching the world go by provides a much needed reprieve from the hustle and bustle of our adult lives. Whatever it may be, it is good for the soul and should be done whenever possible.

Don’t have enough time for Stoop Sitting you say? Make the time. But don’t worry, the stoop always waits.

 

 

On Being a Cyclist

“So, what do you do?”

“I’m a cyclist”

“Oh really! You are a professional cyclist?”

“Nope, I just like to ride bikes a whole lot”

It’s a fairly amusing way to make conversation at the bar, but it is also 100% true. When you ask me what I do, I’m not going to tell you how I make a paycheck. Because bicycles rule my life and they are the one thing that I identify my existence with the most. Before I was a college student, a scientist, a skateboarder, a rock climber or even an unemployed traveler (as I am now), I was a cyclist. But what is a cyclist? This is a question I struggle with on a regular basis.

To me, it  is a simple answer. A cyclist is a person who rides a bicycle. But somewhere along the way we have lost sight of the simplicity and started breaking up into different tribes. Like some kind of lycra and flannel clad Lord of the Flies. There are roadies, singlespeeders, commuters, downhill, BMX’ers, touring riders … and so on. I’m not sure what causes this compartmentalization. Maybe it is society, human nature or even marketing. But I’ve never thought it was very healthy. Sure, it’s nice to differentiate between disciplines but it shouldn’t be so polarizing.

I am constantly being judged and told that I don’t “look like a cyclist”. Granted, I more closely resemble a fire hydrant or a tree stump. But what does a cyclist look like and what the hell does that have to do with me being able to pedal a bicycle? I wonder how many other people this happens to. I can’t be the only one and it probably scares a fair amount of people away.

You see, I have an agenda with all of this social media blabbing and internet writing I do. I want to be a fun-enabler and get more people excited about riding bicycles. There are a lot of great organizations like Trips for Kids and Ride for Reading  that work to get children on bikes. There are also groups like World Bicycle Relief and Portal Bikes who are doing amazing things in developing nations. But who looks out for our friends, relatives and neighbors?

We do.

This is a call to arms for all cyclists around the world. A mission to find one person around you and put them on a bicycle. Do you have a friend who “used to ride” and wishes they could get back into it? Well then take them for a ride. Does your significant other want to go for a multi-day bikepack in the Rockies? Give them a high five, a map and get after it. Maybe your buddy at work has always wanted to do a backflip on a BMX bike. Help him find a ramp, take it to a lake and give it a try. The possibilities for spreading this cycling addiction are endless.

I understand that cycling is an inherently selfish endeavor. I have been in this game long enough to know that it’s just you, some calories and a machine. But I also feel that part of being a cyclist is sharing our love of bicycles with others, no matter what discipline we participate in. Most of us have been riding bicycles since we were children and it should still be just as fun and welcoming today as it was back then. Hopping curbs, skidding, riding with no hands and splashing through puddles are there for everyone to enjoy. It’s up to us to break down the barriers, bring more people in and create more cyclists. We are incredibly fortunate to be using a form of transportation as recreation. Let’s not take that for granted.