I don’t think I’ve ever loved a road or trail the first time I’ve ridden it. No, the first ride is always a little anxious: will this road expose my weaknesses (technical downhilling) or play to my strengths (umm…)? Will I get lost (yes, I constantly worry about getting lost)?
And the biggy: Will I run out of steam before I run out of ride?
The truth is, I don’t really start liking a road route / trail until I’ve ridden it three or five times.
And I expect it’s not at all insignificant that all of my very favorite rides are ones I’ve been on for years and years.
Likewise, while I’m always excited to get a new bike, I am usually at a loss for an answer when — during the inaugural outing — someone asks how I like it. Because usually I just don’t know yet. There’s too much new about it. The geometry is new, the parts are new, maybe even the kind of bike is new.
How does the new bike feel? It feels new. I’l get back to you on how I like it after I’ve been riding it for a month.
So something occurred to me yesterday: Practically everything I like about biking has to do with familiarity and tradition.
I like riding the trails and roads I’ve been riding for years — in fact, when we moved back to Utah, my one stipulation to Susan was that I wanted to be close to American Fork Canyon.
I like riding with the friends I’ve ridden with for years. I’ve known the guys in the Core Team for a minimum of 8 years. Most I’ve known since before Susan and I had kids.
And I like events that I’ve done for years. Like the way I’ve done the Leadville 100 an even dozen times now. I don’t keep doing that race because I’ve got something to prove (though I’d definitely like to prove something). I keep doing it because I love the tradition of the event.
In other words, I like cycling because — in addition to the exercise and adventure — it is one of the best constants in my life. I like it for its familiarity and tradition.
So, with that said, you should be able to guess why I’m excited for November 7-9. It’s when a bunch of us — the core team and a number of core team interns — get together for a long weekend of riding. It’s a perfect storm of mountain biking tradition: it’s the guys I like riding with, riding trails I love to ride, in an annual event that becomes increasingly storied.
And as of last night, the first part of the Fall Moab tradition happened: Kenny sent out his annual Fall Moab poster (usually based on a recent film).
Kenny is a genius.
I have to ask myself: is this gravitation toward the familiar a sign (ie, yet another sign) that I’m getting old? That I’m set in my ways and uninterested in trying something new?
Or am I normal (at least in that regard)? Do all cyclists gravitate to the familiar?
Here’s a way to test how important tradition in cycling is to you: Which would you rather give up: your favorite ride, or one of your fingers?
Some of you will respond, quite sensibly, "There are always new rides out there; I’ve only got the fingers I’ve got."
As for myself, I saw the question as an interesting challenge to figure out which finger I use least.