Anything is everything
Anything is everything.
Exclusivity, I had once thought was the right reserved to the upper crust. Manicured golf courses, valet parking, homes with top to bottom trim designed by an affluent home owner and architect. New cars, expensive skis and bikes ridden in places I’d only seen in glossy magazine pictures. Exclusivity usually meant a membership into some known or private club with secret handshakes backed with old money and free to do as they pleased.
Team and club sports with matching kits, fancy shoes and gear bags. Everybody moved as one and they used strength in numbers to achieve goals and ambitions, I however was never invited, nor did I let myself become involved in such bullshit.
I had grown up in a single wide mobile home on ten acres, exclusivity wasn’t a word that was in our vocabulary. I watched our neighbors build houses, have big machines cut into the ground for foundations, knocking down trees and clearing pastures, and we stayed idle with our humble tin can and barn. My father made attempts to short cut the process of building our house that my parents had blueprints for, that resulted in another learning experience and dealing with adversity while others condone and look down upon you, but we built our house and took the knocks on the chin, we never knelt to anyone.
I was athletic in high school and I knew it. Skinny and small I wasn’t built for much yet, but I was equally as strong as bigger guys with twice the endurance. By my junior year I was steadily riding my bike to school, 18-25 miles round trip. What started out as a show of defiance by getting kicked off the school bus turned into an experience to this day I still practice.
When you grow up rough, your confidence is most affected. I was shy and had a hard time looking people in the eye while talking to them, and even now occasionally I catch myself doing it. The need to please others before myself has put me in awkward and unrewarding situations.
I played soccer, ran cross-country but it was more to show people I could do it, and that I was just as good as they were but I wasn’t happy, I was competing against myself for than anything, for some justification that I was indeed good enough, that out running or out playing them gave me confidence. Now I see it as a shallow way to build myself up, that ego is an evil and is usually the head of those exclusive pricks I hated so much. We were fighters down to the nail full of pride, vengeful and sometimes misused our strength.
I raced my first handful of mountain bike races in hi-tech hiking boots, soccer socks, tighty whities, soccer shorts and some kind of shirt. I had graduated bikes up to a Kona hot, a sweet steel frame designed by Joe Murray, 3×7, thumb shifters and fully rigid. The introvert had found a release of an inner being that before stayed dormant and repressed. I was in the mountains with other strays and outcast, wildly athletic people charging up ski hills and bouncing down them. We would battle then afterwards reflect on what and who had just punished us, grievances aside the warriors had their fight and now we were all friends again, I had found a calling.
My personalities and competitive nature had for the first time a positive place to go. I raced on cheap bikes with washing machine parts spray painted by me and my dad dueling out with kids on high end aluminum and this new thing called carbon fiber in muddy cross races. I didn’t put in the time some of them did, nor was I a fan of NORBA cross-country races that only lasted an hour and a half, I liked big loops and carrying back country tools to fix any ailment, otherwise it felt like a team sport where you could rely on others instead of the singular effort of you against nature and the balance between the two.
Most of the time I ride alone now, especially on the mountain bike. I enjoy the wholeness of the effort and always have, from not having much for most of my life to now steadily building and acquiring, I’m in a place that’s sometimes foreign to me, but I know I’m deserving of it. Knowing where I came from to where I am now, the different paths, jobs, houses and states, everything is different, but the current is 100 percent the same.
Enjoying a lazy rainy summer day in Bartonville Texas at the home of my girlfriends parents, I perused the magazine isle at barns and noble finding the history of mountain biking magazine. Realizing my generation was at the boom of the sport, and now we ride towards our 40’s fit greying, balding and covered in scars. Enjoying what we’ve accomplished and the ability to ride steeds we once could only touch in shops, it’s amazing to look around and feel the pulse that we’ve created. That longevity, creativeness that we’ve sprung and be a part of it all. We try to segregate ourselves, to find an individual niche that makes people take notice of us, what we do and what we like to ride. We point and mock, and try to establish some sort of exclusive grouping of likeminded people, when truth be told we are all just looking for the same ending result. Mountain bikers have longed not gave a fuck about groups or clubs, if you liked to ride bikes-cool, if not do your thing and I’ll do mine.
We should take pride in the different endeavors that bikes bring to us, and allow our minds to expand at all the possibilities. Without a handful of wingnuts who just wanted to ride down mountains a lot of us would be years behind all the fun we’ve already had. It’s a beautiful thing the beast and machine, the lines of mountains match the lines on my face, maps and stories of where we’ve been. A bike raised me in my youth and has raised me to be a better human, it is my greatest ally, deepest confidant and pursuer of things left unseen and mountains to climb, there is nothing exclusive about that.