Dust to Dust.

When I was about 13 I was running around a cemetery at night with my brothers and cousin.  I came across a stone with a weird porcelain oval on it.  I reached into my pocket and pulled out a pack of matches, lit one and held it up to the stone.  With the glow of fire behind him, the overbearing eyes of the dead man knocked me back onto my ass.

I don’t know why I like riding my bike through cemeteries.  Maybe it’s the peacefulness.  I look at the names on the stones, the dates and wonder who the person was.  Who put them there.  Who misses them.  Today I went into a new cemetery near my house.  Apparently it’s mostly Ukranian.  The older half had many of these portraits.  I stared at these knowing there was a story behind each one. The first little girl was radiant.  Joseph was killed in Vietnam three days after I was born.  Paul and Nickolas told me a little taste of their story.

All these people are dust now.  I’m sure most have been forgotten or not thought of for years.  Today, I thought about each one of them.  People I have and can never meet still touched me.

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Riding Interrupted.

 

For many of the last few years, I wasn’t really able to ride flatland.  Those of you that do it can understand the intense mental state it takes.  Those of you who don’t ride flat should know it takes the ultimate concentration and focus.  You have to be completely in the moment.  That is part of the fun but perhaps the hardest to master of all my tricks.

The reason I couldn’t ride flatland was because of a crumbling marriage.  I’d try to go out and ride but after 15 minutes, I’d sit on my bike and just think.  Think about my troubles.  Think about her spending time with another guy.  Think about my kids and how they deserved better.  It got to the point where I knew when I went out, she was with him.  Too often, I’d come home to find him sitting in my house.  The focus was gone.

My ability to ride flat left a void in my life.  I tried to fill in with riding big wheeled bikes or going to the skatepark.  Those were ways I could ride and think about what I was doing intermittently with the problems at home.  It was fun but didn’t let me be creative the way I had always been.

About a year ago, I went out to ride and found the zone again.  While life was far from perfect, she was now behind me and so was the baggage.  It was liberating to say the least.  Today while I was out in my parking lot a black SUV started coming toward me.  It’s always amazed me how I’m such a car magnet in an otherwise empty lot.  The car came to a stop and it was her.

We spoke for a few minutes about the kids and the day.  Nothing much.  Then she left to go back to what was formerly our home.  I took this pause as an opportunity to get a drink of water and I had been riding intensely for half an hour.  I lay my bike over and sat on the frame and she was in my head again.

Not bad thoughts, not hurt, not angst.  I just felt like I saw someone I knew even though she had once broken the heart I pledged to her.  Today, I just felt an odd mix of friendliness and discontent.  My mind started to wander back to days past, both good and bad. I was heading back to that bad place.

Quickly realizing this, I got up and hopped on my bike.  A few quick cranks and a 180 had me racing backwards as I popped the back wheel up.  I rolled about 4 parking spaces and set the back wheel down smoothly.  Cranking the bars around backwards, the front wheel slid around and had me going forwards again.  It felt good.

Maybe the trick was a metaphor for my life turning itself around, perilously balancing for a while but then I got it back under control and was now moving forward.  At the time though I didn’t think of that.  I was just thinking about how good it felt to be riding and how lucky I am now to have flatland back in my life.

By brettdownsconspiracy

Choices

When I was a kid my bike was my best friend. I rode it all the time, nearly everyday. It took me places both geographically and spiritually. It had many purposes. Need to get somewhere? Need to let out some aggression? Need to fill a creative void? Need to push myself? The bike answered all these questions.

When I got out of college and got my first “real” job, I decided that I’d never have a shitty bike again. I had been riding bent and broken bikes my whole life. Soon after I let myself go to the extravagance of having a flatland bike and a ramp bike. Each was set up for their different uses. Then I got a mountain bike. Eventually, I built up some old school bikes from the extra parts I had laying around and it was fun to ride them once in a while.

When I started working in the bike industry I quickly got access to more bikes. I picked up one after another. My kids started riding and they needed bikes. After the divorce, they needed bikes at both houses. The arsenal got full.

These days I still consider myself a BMX’er even though the bike I ride most often is a grocery getter. My mood and where I want to ride influence the decision over which bike I pick. Sometimes I feel like a silly spoiled kid with so many options but I don’t let it get to me. I choose to see myself as a rider. I pick the tool for the job. For years I have said that I take my riding seriously but I’m not a serious rider. It’s more about answering those same questions I asked as a kid.

Choices aren’t necessary but they can be nice to have sometimes. Surround yourself with what you can use to progress yourself.

By brettdownsconspiracy