Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Something Old, Something New

Any day on a mountain bike is good day, but every once in a while there is that special day. You can't orchestrate it or plan it, it just happens. We've participated in so many group rides through the years, it would be useless to count them. But each ride was a stitch, a piece of thread in the tapestry of our life of cycling together. In our 20's and 30's, we didn't approach each ride with the thought that "we're creating memories." When, in fact, that's just what we were doing.

This weekend was a special ride in that we temporarily connected the two ends of our story together for a moment in time.
What originally started as a usual gathering of our current day riding buddies, grew into a ride of epic proportions! The past 5 years, Raja and I have made new friends in our cycling community as our normal riding partners have either moved or are engaged with the demands of young growing families. Obligations, jobs, and changes in priorities have shifted the routine and left us the only ones still leading the simple life in the orbit of cycling. New friends and a new era of biking has emerged.

Our world, every one's world, has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. Technology has reinvented the way we communicate, socialize, work, and play. Like any baby boomer, we've embraced the changes, but still clutch the not so distant past with a tight fist held behind our backs. Those days are gone, forever. And all you have are the stories, the memories.
I say all you have are the memories, because even the world of photography has changed. We don't have 100's of photos from every ride when we first started riding. I have more pics from the last 5 years of cycling than of the previous 15 years combined. So it was a real treat to have my first riding friends from 15-20 years ago to join in on this weekend's ride. Our oldest cycling friends with our newest friends...a unique and special ride.This year we have been meeting new friends on the rides, only to discover that we go "way back" together and didn't even know it. Blair introduced himself a few months ago, and the more we talked, the more we realized we did the same rides back in the early 90's. How funny that it took all this time to finally meet. So many "old timers" are coming back around full circle and hooking up. But this time, we're hooking up in the midst of the new crowd. The next generation of mountain biking, in the process of making their own memories. They just don't know it yet. But they will, in another 10 years.

I won't candy coat it and act as though life was all roses for me when I first experienced mountain biking. As I said, things were different back then. You had to pay your dues, and no one gave me a hand out. Didn't make any difference being a female. In fact, it seemed I had to fight that much harder to earn my spot. But once I did, it was nice being the only female in a male dominated sport. Even though I was married, the guys still watched out after me like their own little cub.

I'm happy for riders like Paula and Robin who can have such a wonderful group of friends to support them in their journey of cycling. The way today's mountain bikers rally around newcomers is inspiring.
I wouldn't trade my personal experience for all the titanium full suspension frames in Colorado. The school of hard knocks was a tough way to learn cycling, but it left an indelible impression on me. Those memories are to be cherished like precious gems. But like a good wine, they can only be savored after they've been aged. Many of our new friends are only beginning in their journey of mountain biking, and some are half way there. I can only hope they continue to build on the foundation they are presently laying. There is a certain type of satisfaction to be able to look back with contentment at what you've done with the time that has passed.
Maybe we haven't made the headlines or had great buildings raised in our honor. But we've left a trail, albeit small, piece by piece of adventure, trials, challenges, and special moments all shared on mountain bikes in the beauty of nature with our friends.
It's easy to get caught up in the moment, the excitement of a race or the stress of performance, and team expectations. Thank goodness, we didn't abandon this journey. Because it's not about "that race" or "if you get to the top first". It's more than any of that. It's beyond that. And we're still finding that out, more and more each day, each ride, each new friend. Something old, something new, makes something beautiful!


Blair said...

Great post as always.
Great pics as always.

Here is to another great 20..30 years of riding!!

regularjoe said...

What an awesome post.

Top notch images as well. Some of your best (at least that I have seen).

I've always believed a shooter's best images come when they are really feeling it. Really in the moment. There's emotion in these images. That's what sets them apart...

Robb Sutton said...

That was an incredible ride...there is nothing like starting off in the snow like that.

Great pictures as always!