The Pettit-Files. Taxi’s, shuttles, sales meetings and Riding bikes.
Damn, I hate flying. The herding of people, pre-booked seating that leaves me wedged in the middle seat even after I double check that I got the emergency isle, now my knees are firmly planted in the back of the cheap aluminum and plastic of the poor soul in front of me. Maybe I’ve had too much coffee and too little sleep. But, I think the fact that I got a flashy new bike sitting in the garage and I’m stuck on a winged coffin as my extremities swell with the pressure spiking my patience thin.
Originally I was going to drive to this sales meeting/clinic in Colorado Springs but the new machine arrived late and caused me to change plans. I was going to hit my north shops, ride some changing color trails, be the captain of my own destiny, but now aboard a Boeing 737 I await the drink cart to roll my direction. Over bearing couples kiss and spill their affection for each other and talk in couple baby code, skin folded over their cotton clothing they begin to sweat after takeoff, but I’ll give it to the guy he landed a girl out of his league now where is that damn cart papa got a new debit card let’s see if it works. I need something to take the edge off and quite the crying baby before I pull the emergency door and go all DB Cooper in this bitch.
Off to Colorado Springs and the heavenly arches of Rockshox for some training and of course riding. I’m stoked; I genuinely love our crew of reps, inside guys, even corporate, hell I dig the polo shirts. But get me with the tech boys and girls who design and ride the hell out of this stuff and multiply my happiness by 10 and add a hint of makers mark, pbr and a heavy dose of single track. Lapierre pulled through with the first of two bikes, the XR 729, my first official cross country full suspension bike, next up is the zesty a near 6 inch travel monster I’ll outfit with our new pike, reverb stealth, xx1 and our new 27.5 line up of goodness. News Flash, everyone remain calm, I just ordered up a lunchbox-beer with oj, everything is looking up.
I have discovered halfway into my 30’s that we get set in what we like/love/need want and have to haves. Our bending to others needs seem to take a bit more effort. I have come to understand I have zero tolerance for the bullshit, give me the truth, honest, ugly, beyond beautiful but most importantly, real. I don’t run from fakeness of falseness but it no longer even registeres on my radar, not to say the empathy is gone, but it now belongs to people who are and will be part of my years. I want to get dirty in a good life, not be marred by shit that doesn’t matter. Don’t stroke egos experience all we can, that’s part of the dna of this band of bikers. We hunt and gather what quiets us, images, places, smiles, and toughness. We have become a righteous people, since the decades and centuries of our forefathers, we loath in remission of our former selves. We amble and gawk at celebrities and athletes covered in armor dispelling any disbelief that we are in the same realm as them. 80,000 people sit in a stadium and watch grown indidvuals play a game for millions seasonally. The lights click on Thursday and stay lit all the way through Monday night as a nation is held hostage to radio stations, tv’s, fantasy whatever’s, and all the other gluttony that tags along for the ride. The gelatinous of America bulges over waistbands, sky rockets blood pressure and diabetes. Flick off the lights and let their glow diminish into the darkness, turn off the TV and hear what is all around you.
Our people are a sporadic bunch, cast upon wheels of varying lengths and widths, chains and belts to gears to nothing. We go about our business in the company of life long fellow minded friends or like me, more often than not, alone. I get tuned to the compression of my chest to the cadence of my breathing matched to the churning of my legs and the thumping of my heart. Paintings unfold before me, some unrecognizable because of their beauty, others vastly difficult marked with a little tragedy and loneliness, my mind then wonders to those in my life that hold pieces of me, my love and appreciation for them gains and swells until I just want to see them again.
We are wicked people to love, as complicated as we are, we are just as easily understood. My audacity and verbiage get caught up in the insecurities of others and I know that with a couple forms of communication I could sooth those edges, but yet I usually don’t. I like to get introverted as much as I like to be outwardly. I never dug team sports, I like being the engine, solo endeavors give a greater appreciation and share those with others, I know my role amongst my friends and have found a tailor fit. Self-reliance appeals to me, I love living alone, I like to love and be loved, but there is a serenade for self-reliance. Bikes, bikes have forever understood me. From the single wide on a gravel road, 20 dollar machines took me to rivers and lakes that shaped me, got me away from the tin house and allowed me to experience the vast greatness that was around me. Bikes showed me love; simple love, being and element in the elements, letting images soak through to your core and forever leave that picture. Ironing out frustrations, help me understand and give lift off to adventures. The bikes improved along with my endurance and now my garage is filled with bikes and equipment, gear, and something for nearly every occasion.
My buddy Matt and his wife Jenny recently spent a couple of days at my house. They left Seattle on the fourth of July and pedaled down a meandering route in chaco sandals and long haul truckers. I’ve always liked and respected him, he knew something about me before I did, our ideas of simple living, necessities, and love for the outdoors have bonded us, and we get this life is for living not just a paycheck. We overhauled bikes, relaxed, cooked good dinners and of course being Snohomish boys got a little carried away with beers and stories one night. I was a little sad to see them leave, riding away with bob trailers, an American flag and safety vest, onto the next the town, vistas, food and campsites, I wanted to go. I went back inside and thought about this life, our needs, and our wants and loved shared. My greatest friends have come from the two wheeled chain driven contraptions. I now make my living reping a great brand, riding bikes and sharing my passion for it. We don’t discriminate, a rider is a rider. I respect the commuter as much as the pro, the steel enthusiast and the carbon freak, it’s a common thread, a common need and a complete love for where and how they take us to places, the rubber lay down on either asphalt or dirt, but it still propels us to what we need and seek.
One beer down and a pit stop in Salt Lake City, a little hops helps the words un tumble from my psychosis and form paragraphs. To help pass the time I practice an old trick of one of my greatest mentors, look around and visualize everyone topless, it helps with the imagination but also kills time, hey, don’t judge I guarantee you’ll give it a go. Steel grey skies and a bumpy ride greet me in the Mormon state; I spilled a little drink on my pants so now I’ll have it with me till Wednesday. Next stop Colorado and then my shuttle south.
It didn’t take me all the way to my hotel, so I bribed the shuttle driver with a crisp Lincoln and I was checked in. Tired and hungry but not much was open. I settled for a beer and a bag of chips and salsa from a gas station. Up early the next day for some shitty hotel coffee and a paltry breakfast. We caught a shuttle and began to assemble in rooms. Puffy down SRAM jackets, hats, gloves, scarfs and beanies dotted the cars, rooms and town. I entered closed doors and tried to see new products and swipe some goodies. Good classes and great new products where all around us, that’s about as far as I can say do to the non-disclosure form I signed. Rebuilt some forks, learned some new stuff and mingle with half of our rep force.
Monday night and out to dinner with the crew, some corporate guys, and a slew of rockshox folk from the springs. The drinks were plenty, the laughs where loud and we spilled it over into a karaoke bar. Home late but not too bad. The next day was riding new products, trying different settings and forks. The cold Colorado air left your bits exposed and chilly, snow flurries carried along in the breeze and your exhales, they dotted the sky and held down the earth.
Back to the shop for a little Q and A, lunch then discuss new programs and ideas. A select group went back outside, this time however no fidgeting with the equipment, open it up and launch. Different skill levels dotted the trails and I was happy to pedal out into the snow with the cold on my face after a long hot summer in Arizona. Back to the hotel, quick shower, short nap, couple phone calls then another company dinner. Grabbed a quick beer with my bosses and received some swag from the Kona ironman world championships, a brightly decorated zoot kit, that everyone said I should be able to pull off.
Up before 4 comes early when you finally get to bed around midnight. Pack, guzzle burnt hotel coffee, wait for cab then hop on the shuttle back to Denver international airport. Once again got the shaft middle seat and had to check my bag, but I was heading home. Pick up the wagon from airport parking hawk and point it towards home.
Thinking about the effort of getting somewhere by bike, or at least your own power has always resonated with me the strongest. The effort to get somewhere and enjoy it, the purity that’s what I love. I’ll forever be a wonderer, a recluse, loud and quite, I will always seek to find the truth of myself in these days, and hopefully if the last year has been any guidance I’m firmly in my direction. Truth and consequences, burnt ends, gratitude pools and a fear and loathing converge like the big two headed river. Taking with us all we have and what we think we need and can’t live without, those attached through the good and bad are lifelong and become family. At 34,000 feet in the middle seat 6 rows back looking over the mesas, clouded earth, rivers and valleys below, we are small and all mighty, what thumps and drives, what separates and divides and what ties us together. Roads seem to head to nowhere down below, but they too have a direction and a destination.
Hunting for moments, efforts and time we peruse the carrousel we deem to be worth the ride. My eyes drawn heavy, I could sprawl out finally in the car, coffee, work, shower and laundry. Before the sun set I forced myself to ride. An early moon crests from the southeast as I rode towards the setting sun out west. My body and mind coasted over sharp edged rocks soothed by the fully suspended rig, I became happy and comfortable. I laid down on the side of the trail, looking up towards the disappearing blue sky and the full hanging moon in the warm fall night until a rider with a light rolled up and asked if I was alright.
“yeah man, never better”