I once knew a cyclist. He was nicknamed “Chainring” and he rode mightily upon the Cumberland Plateau. He affeared no cargo bike ascent or twenty-eighth mile of rolling ridgeline. But now I’m just a lowly sometimes mountain biker and don’t ever run into that guy anymore. Maybe he’s out on some epic ride. I sure hope he’s okay.
I keep meaning to send him a text or give him a call. I figured if I could help him out by getting his road bike worthy again, or helping him get his hydro brakes lined out. He needs to remember to log out of Blogger if he’s going to be on long rides…
In a recent post I indicated that bike culture (along with most other forms) is lacking in my neck of the backwoods. Afterward I longingly browsed through a few archived Pavement’s Edge posts and stumbled upon more than a handful that featured Jeaph and/or the Crash Test Librarian. Tomahawk made some appearances as well.
See, it’s not that there isn’t nor ever has been bike culture in Powell County; it’s just that there seems (to me) to be a lull at the moment.
Mark moved west into other Twilight Zones of Time. Tomahawk still rides, but he’s a kind of a lone wolf hawk dude anyway. We ride, but he always begs off because everyone is faster than him. This is true but irrelevant. Joe burned the bridge between us though he was never a riding partner. Still, he was an element of the dysfunctional bike community that has existed in some form or another in the area for a long time.
And then there’s Jeaph. Or, more accurately…there’s NO Jeaph.
Jeaph! Where are yooooo?
A strange radio silence emanated from Furnace Mountain after the Mohican 100. Truly I was down for the count. My mountain bike was wrecked after my proofing stint. I got it fixed rather quickly, but it was still down. My road bike went down in a similar fashion soon after. The Cannonball spewed brake fluid all over Hatton Creek one day so I’ve gone since summer without it as well.
Even if Jeaph had called or txted me asking to go for an epic ride through Lee and Estill County I would have regretfully declined. But no call or txt came through. And I didn’t make fixing my road bike a priority.
I’ve got nary a good excuse for putting off my bike repairs for so long. Also, there is no reason for me to completely surrender to fear and laziness. And rest assured that fear and laziness have contributed to my lassitude. The lack of a robust bicycle culture in my hometown is a factor. I lack good examples to shame me out of the oversized gas-powered wheel chair that I use to whisk around the land.
Too many times I’ve been confronted with the barrier walls of biking costumes, inclement weather, the fear of traffic, and other friction that derailed all of my plans to ride. I can hardly call myself a cyclist anymore. The closest I’ve come to reclaiming that coveted status was during my conference trip to Des Moanes when I did some amazingly fun singletrack night riding and some midday lunch-time prairie biking in the ‘burbs of Iowa.
When I returned home I basically stabled the bike and have only gotten fat and sore and stiff.
I say all this—not to air my dirty laundry or to call anyone out—I say all of this to exhibit the fragility of small town and rural subcultures. It doesn’t take much for groups of like-minded people to drift apart. Small rifts end up being major fault lines down the road for seemingly no reason.
Bike friends are precious. There probably aren’t many of them. Cyclists are a small percentage of the population. And not all cyclists are friends. That means that those of us that share a passion for bikes need to stick together. We need as much synergy as we can get.
Going it solo can seem noble, but in the end you lose too much crucial snark and group energy. I’ve been pondering this for some time now. I’ve wracked my brain to try and figure out how to build up a community where none exists. There’s no easy answer.
Hopefully I can broaden my view a bit and look beyond comfortable horizons. We need new blood and new energy. I need a shot in the arm myself.