Took a break, now I’m back, here’s what we learned
It’s been a nice break, but it’s time to come back. Sure, part of me would like to have a few more weeks to chill out and keep riding my bike more, relaxing more, and getting to bed when I want to, but, then I’d be responsible for a general listlessness that you can’t quite put your finger on, like something is missing, like you’re forgetting to do something, you can’t sleep, you can’t eat, and then you realize… where’d that Sticky Bidon thing go?
Ok, maybe not, but I haven’t run out of things to ponder, question, critique, or whinge about, so the show goes on.
I thought I’d ease back into this and keep this one fairly simple (though they often start with that idea and blow out into something far lengthier), with a brief recap of things I learned, or at least had reinforced, over the past two weeks:
- I like riding bikes. You may have already guessed that one, but it’s true. I like it. I have specifically gotten into exploring new places, thanks in large degree to having a CX bike. Gravel is greedily sought out, singletrack is doable, and long distances are more enjoyable than on a MTB. Plus, it’s been a fantastic commuter. If you want one bike to rule them all, get yourself a CX bike, immediately. Even better, don’t get an expensive one, because a) then you can use it to get around town on and can feel ok about locking it up, and b) you won’t be so precious about it to really get upset about bashing it around, which is way more fun anyway.
- Dogs are stupid. I like dogs, but it just so happens that they are animals. It’s true. I know this because I’m smart. They’re not, however, quite as smart as most humans, and for this reason, one decided to run directly under my front wheel a couple of days ago, making both of us pretty sore and pretty dirty little creatures. It’s ok (somehow), and I’m also going to live. It’s only a small ouchie, luckily, because according to the guy who witnessed it (who it turns out I knew – that’s so Adelaide…), apart from the very worried and apologetic owners, apparently I’m part Bruce Lee or something, because I rolled out of it like a boss. Sort of (there’s a small chance I could be taking liberties with his description). Anyway, be careful when riding around stupid animals who are not on a leash. Oh, and dogs too.
- TV has gotten way too good. Not actual TV. That’s horrible. But with all the Netflix and Stans and everything, it’s crazy how much time you can waste and not feel all that bad about it.
- Being comfortable on the bike is way better than looking cool (bonus points if you can do both). It’s been really, really wet here, and the mornings have been pretty cold after an unusually nice autumn. I don’t do cold at all. My minimum temperature range seems to be getting higher with each passing year, which is honestly a worry. It’s really just my feet and hands, but they are seriously piss weak, with extremely unpleasant side effects. So, I’ve already cracked open the booties, the waterproof and therefore windproof socks, the merino wool, and the warmer gloves. For the commute, it’s also a rain jacket (not even a cycling one – any will do, and a hood to go over your helmet is awesome) and waterproof pants on wet days. The cool kids will point and laugh (I try to avoid mirrors), but let me tell you, unless the rain is heavy enough that keeping your eyes open is a problem, I say bring it on. Totally comfortable. I kind of enjoy it, actually. Gear up. It’s worth it.
- Lights. Since it’s been getting darker earlier, there’s more commuters with lights (funny, that), but there’s also more and more people with a “more is better” mentality. Let’s be clear about this – you don’t need to harness the power of the sun on your handlebars (or worse, your helmet) to see where you’re going at night, especially in town. During the day, fine. Brighter is better when the sun is out, but at night, especially in the wet, your mega-lumen lights are doing more harm than good for everybody but you. They’ve all got settings. Use them. Go ahead, be all Spinal Tap and turn it up to 11 when out in the hills or when you’re mountain biking or when there’s nobody coming, but if you haven’t already figured it out when passing other people with their high-beams on, go turn your light on to your favourite setting, stand in front of it, and see if you can look at it without going blind. Can you see anything at all around the lights? No, you can’t. Because they’re really, really, really bright. I know that even moderately powered lights are still pretty bright to look at, but be reasonable. If you’re worried about being seen, that’s what the flashing modes are for. You don’t like to have what’s in front of you disappearing many times each second? Use a second light on steady, or get one of many lights that incorporate a flashing mode into their steady mode (which is also easier on oncoming traffic). And that strobe setting? It’s for daylight hours. Only.
- Finally, riding bikes is awesome, even when it’s not. There was this road, which turned into gravel, which turned into singletrack, which turned into barely passable hiking trail, that I headed out to explore on my own last week, after a recommendation by someone. The thing is that I didn’t know anything past it being a trail, and recommended. And, that it seemed like a good idea. Turns out the recommendation was to do down rather than up, but in any case, it’s useless for riding up. After dismounting to push the bike with increasing regularity, after one particularly awkward dismount (I kept giving it my best shot until it was obvious that getting back on was just stupid), I got a little frustrated and threw a private tanty. Stupid trail. I didn’t want to play anymore. But then, I looked around at the really beautiful nature I was in, and realized that this was still a pretty awesome way to spend one’s morning. Just me, with the birds singing (and spiders crawling!), in a lush ravine, exercising, improving my mediocre-on-a-good-day bike skills, and at the top of what seemed like about a 40 minute hike with my bike on my back, I was back to actually riding my bike through more really beautiful nature. It’s all about perspective. I have a bike to ride and a body that is up for it, in a place that makes for some awesome bike riding, in a country that isn’t at war or financial ruin, so take a deep breath man, and enjoy it.
I’ll call it there. You’ve got things to do. I’ve got things to do, and I’ll be back in two days time to finally pop another post into the product review section, which is something that I really wish I had more opportunity to do.
Until next time.
Header image: The Sticky Bidon