The Longing

By April 22, 2014 Uncategorized

This time of year the need to ride becomes the most acute.

Spring is intermittently in the air, and while roads are slowly cleared of salt and sand the roadies and motorcycle guys start to appear with increasing frequency.  Those of us who ride off-road have a longer wait still.

Friends from down country post pictures of their muddy bikes on roof racks, or grin at us in stupid trailside selfies.  Those same people that will soon be driving hours to ride in our backyard have the drop on us, and for a few weeks that’s really a kick in the nuts.

To join them would mean a long car ride to ride mostly mediocre trails with marginal fitness.

Often I casually ask how the trails are “down there”, and really the “there” doesn’t fucking matter.  Could be New Hampshire, Mass, or even my usual early season refuge of Pine Hill Park in Rutland.  But the truth is that any moderately responsible trail user needs to hold off for a while longer for things to really dry out.  It’s been cold and snowy everywhere, and unless you own a helicopter a daytrip to ride dry hardpack isn’t feasible.

For a few more weeks we wait.  Begrudgingly.

Until then it’s still drinking season.

gg_flask

Arizona Roadside Pictures

By March 29, 2014 Uncategorized

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Remembering FG

By March 19, 2014 Uncategorized
Every year around this time I think of him.
He was a bright, young, good-hearted kid who was gone far too soon.  A little over a decade later I’ve had the time to distill my feelings into these few words.
To be fair to those close to him, we weren’t best friends.  Friends sure, as he’d gotten drunk at my house while underage so I hoped for some cool upperclassman cred.  We’d ridden and raced together for a few seasons, but I don’t want to overstate our connection.
After college I’d drifted away from my younger friends who were still in school, mostly because I felt like I hadn’t done enough with my life.  The word that haunts me in my 30′s was crushing in my 20′s–”potential”, and after graduation what was meant to be a compliment became my undoing.  Broke, sick and living hand to mouth painting houses I was ashamed that I’d achieved so little with all of the advantages I’d had up to that point.
While I was struggling with my own evolution, he’d injured his knee in a skiing accident and pulled out of college for a semester.  The reasoning for pulling out–or my recollection of it anyway–doesn’t matter.  I can recall the last email I saw from him where he talked about peering into a crystal ball and seeing a skinny kid on a Merlin kicking ass on the road the upcoming spring.
Like all of us he had his demons, and while I consider my struggles under the seemingly relentless grip of Northern New England winter, I imagine him fighting his own battles in that same context.  It feels like winter will never give up and summer will never come.  What we can never see or know is how far off it is and for those waiting to ride, it is never soon enough.
A few months after he died I reached out to his mother through the alumni association.  To respect her privacy they passed along my condolences and left any further contact up to her.  After some vetting to make sure I really knew her son, she called me.  We talked for a while about college and the memories I had of her son.  Even then she talked about him like he had gone away on a long trip and would be back home soon.
He was a friend, I miss him, and his loss had a profound effect on me.  I don’t write this to garner sympathy for my own feelings, but rather to create awareness and hopefully prevent things like this from happening.  If people matter to you, tell them in a way they understand.  Make sure they know they’re important to you, and if you think they need help don’t ask what you can do–just fucking do something.  Show up after work with a six pack and don’t leave until it’s gone.  Drag them out of the house on Saturday morning to run to the hardware store. Be relentless.  Be a pain in the ass if need be, but don’t let them slip away.
If I had the chance I’d have said hang in there, buddy.  The snow banks are going to melt, the sun is going to come out and we’ll be riding again soon.