Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hey! Whereya been?

Okay, I know...I've not stuck a new post on here since Christmastime. And I certainly haven't ridden my bike since well before Christmas, maybe not in the month of December. Not that it's been pleasant bicycle weather here in Denver. But still.

As a few of you know, I've been struggling a bit with cycling. My riding is solo, predictable and unsatisfying. My writing about cycling has been bitchy, curmudgeonly. I'm not convinced that I've become bitchy and curmudgeonly in a global sense; my motorcycle writing is healthy. I find joy in motorcycling.

I seldom find joy in my bicycling.

I remember too well what cycling was like back when, when we rode in communities of riders. When saying you were a bike rider said a lot about who you were. When you couldn't imagine you wouldn't be a rider for life.

When I moved away from the Bay Area in 1997, I lost that community. I have worked to find it again and failed. I've been riding my bike most days since then, and occasionally, I have done delightful rides. Not very damned often.

On my undelightful rides these days, I sit and pedal and watch what happens on the bike paths; almost none of it pleases me. I go home and write sad tales, the ravings of an embittered old man.

Because this blog has focused on the bicycling side of my life rather than the motorcycling side, I have felt reluctant to post my thoughts, reluctant to share the shadow that has fallen over my cycling. Long ago I began providing links to articles I found interesting rather than disappoint my readers with my own somber thoughts.

I believe I'm passing through some phase, a senior crisis for chrissakes maybe. I can still get excited about doing some epic ride months from now, but I can't force myself to take my bike down off the hooks and ride it today, though I've been doing just that for 35 years. And never imagined I'd quit.

Tamar and I have been talking about this. Maybe I have to break old habits and drive our car to remote areas and ride there. Maybe I can find some of the old feeling. Or make some new cycling friends. Maybe maybe.

I'll try to post more faithfully and more personally than I have for a year or so. If you live in the Pacific NW, I'll surely write about my plight in the Bicycle Paper. If you don't, look for a link to my BP pieces here.

Thanks for reading, as sad Tyler Hamilton used to say at the end of his reports. If you sometimes or always feel the same way I do, please don't hesitate to comment on this page. Remember, your comments are blind: your email address is not supplied to me. Mine is mhershon@gmail.com          

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maynard, I certainly can relate to this post. Cycling used to be an enjoyable activity until the increase of motor vehicles in our place change that. Into running now though. From Baguio City, Phil.

mmanson said...

When you are a known entity in a community, it is easy and almost expected that you participate. Its not so easy when you are suddenly anonymous. I experienced this in our drastic move from New Orleans to Dallas over five years (!) ago. It took me a very long time to start riding again, although being in the bicycle retail business should have made it easier. I ride on my own terms now, mostly alone, on my 10 year old Italian bike. I chose to make it worth my while and it has worked.
Have a Happy New Year you two.
Mark Manson

Anonymous said...

What are the bike paths like? Maybe they are just miserable. Post pictures.
You could try a less "desirable" part of the country.
I ride in an undesirable part of the country, so we are pretty much without sprawl. I am 62, and still get up enthused about my morning rides, which are along lightly travelled, paved farm roads.

John said...

You hit the nail on the head again. I can also relate to this feeling/state of mind. I still enjoy riding very much, but don't have the desire to make room for right now. When people I have not seen in some time, right of the bat, ask if I'm still riding my bike, it kinda stings. That used to be so much of my life, that it's all people can think of after "how ya been?" I'm pretty sure when there is room for riding in my life again, riding will be ready for me too.
Alway a pleasure reading your work. Happy new year.

Bodfish said...

OK Maynard it really is time to get over the "pure cyclist" thing...drive-to-ride really is a grand thing. Now that we are in our sixties people will stop speaking ill of our motoring...we've earned our motorized wheelchairs. We've done our bit to teach North Americans about the virtues of being pure cycling advocates...let's get out there and help bring on peak oil! Self-propulsion is a serious turn-on, still.

Larry and Heather said...

One can (as Larry does too often) pine for the good-old-daze of cycling but we need to be aware of the "way we never were" trap. Some of my best memories are of riding with the old racing club guys in SoCal but in reality, how many times did I actually do that vs riding around on my own, as I do mostly today except when we're riding with our clients in Italy? The "there's nobody to ride with" excuse is just that..an excuse. I can't say how much I'd ride if I lived in Denver because I wouldn't live in "LA@5000ft" unless someone was paying me horse-choking amounts of money to do so..so much that I could put up with it for a few years and then retire to Italy and ride with the old geezers there a few times a month but still end up enjoying cycling alone with just my thoughts and the sound of the wheels spinning and my own breathing. A sunny, warm day with little wind is still pretty nice, even in Iowa, but maybe not in Denver? Maybe it's time to move to someplace with a gen-u-wine cycling community even though the season may not be year-round? Larry believes there are still some places a wise old sage in the ways of cycling can still be appreciated. Someone out there must know about one or more of 'em. I hate to see you give up such a great sport and hobby Maynard!

Mauricio Babilonia said...

There will always be a place waiting for you here in Madison, Wisconsin. If you ever get tired of Denver, come ride with us.

Anonymous said...

This is how I see the Maynard timeline: move from bike-friendly Berkeley to someplace in AZ that is bike-unfriendly. Move to Denver, also BU. Get older, crash bike. Have fear issues. Refuse to mentor.
Simple questions: do you sit on any advocacy boards? Are you an active member of your local bicycle coalition? If not, why not? Do you have a bell on your bikes--I don't care if it's a Pinarello, you are on a bike path.
While I sympathize with your plight, you've written enough about it. Now's the time to advocate, not ruminate.
Jim

Cigo said...

I know I felt the same when I left Berkeley for Santa Cruz in '89. My cycling dreams sort of died with my ordinary genetics. I missed the club rides, meetings, and the shop. None of it was the same where ever I went - even when I returned to Berkeley in '93. It made me sad to ride. It made me feel isolated.

Fast forward to now, in Portland, where there is always a tailwind, and it always rains at night (yeah, right)...Wasn't that what you wrote once about some mythical bike paradise? Anyway, its here, the dream is alive, in Portland ;-).

But the happiness is in the doing- I'm finding. Doing for the it's own sake, not for the memories, but for the new ones you will create, the new friends you will find if your heart is open, and the newness of the old familiar roads as the seasons change. It's there, if you decide to find it, I think.