Thursday, November 19, 2009

Excuses to Ride

Mike and meet up at Sandy's Espresso in the town of Carnation. It's a wet and windy Monday and I've been thinking about excuses. Excuses are interesting things, they are the way we structure our arguments to make it seem as if we are rational creatures, that we've weighed our options and made the logical choice. I'm sure there are people who actually work that way but when I honestly look at myself, I mostly use logic to rationalize a decision, not to make a rational decision. 

I am, at times (like this one!) an instigator. I'm the guy who sends email saying things like this:

to: [undisclosed receipients] 

date: Fri, Nov 13, 2009 at 7:48 AM

subject: Wet Monday Coffee etc mixed surface ride 11/16/09 

Hey Folks,

So my pal [redacted] and I are planning a ride for Monday. Yeah, it's probably going to be wet, so we're meeting up at Sandy's Espresso in Carnation at 10:00 AM. I'll be leaving my place in beautiful downtown Issaquah at about 8:30 AM so anybody who wants to meet there and ride up to Carnation via trails, etc is welcome to do that. Or meet us at 10:00 at Sandy's. We'll hang out some at Sandy's and then head out (probably via trails) towards someplace. Probably up around Snoqualmie & North Bend.

Yeah, this is all vague and damp. At least one food/coffee stop after Sandy's will be in the mix. Fat tires recommended.

If you think you're in for this, let me know. If you want to forward this out to any like-minded folk, feel free or drag 'em along.

Kent Peterson
Bike Works
3709 S. Ferdinand St.
Seattle WA 98118
hours: 12-6 Tues - Fri, 11-6 Sat, 11-5 Sun, Closed Mondays
206-725-9408 x3

By sending an email such as this, I'm on the hook. I've crafted an excuse to ride. I have to ride because I set the damn sequence in motion. Looking at the forecast for today, I knew it would be windy and wet and too damn easy to stay home if I didn't have an excuse. I'm counting on my friends.

I usually send these emails to the many and the few respond. The Monday thing is a major filter, weeding out the more conventionally employed and responsible who number among my friends. Some are silent, some send regrets and first round excuses with varying degrees of detail.

[Redacted] and I had hatched the vague plan that brought me here this morning but somehow a busted truck removed him from the day's activities. Various others had responded with notes containing words like "I'll try to make it" and "70% sure I'm there" but only pal Mike had listened to Yoda ("do or do not, there is no try") and said "Yea, count me in."

And now, at 10:00 AM on this wet and windy Monday, it's Mike and me. Mike buys my coffee and scone and we talk of his latest score, a $100 classic StumpJumper. We wait a bit for others we're mostly sure won't show and then head out.

We ride on trails I know that are new to Mike up to Snoqualmie and North Bend. Mike will tell you and I'll confirm that it was wonderful riding but if you were looking for a half-empty glass or a reason not to ride, I'm sure you would find it. Mike's fenders were half-done, half adequate and half-assed while mine are not fenders at all. The worst of the spray is kept off my butt (but not my back) by the coroplast trunk that a couple of my pals have dubbed "the cheese wedge."

Mike asks me about my total lack of front fender and I find myself telling him not of damp days or the clay that wedges solid into any fender that might try the epic mud of the Great Divide. What I tell him about instead is the scene in that great epic of dust and light, Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence extinguishes matches by letting them burn down to his fingertips. His men try to emulate this, but burn their fingers. "How do you do it without getting burned?" one soldier finally asks him. "Oh," Lawrence replies, "I get burned, I just don't care."

We ride with some care, care that had us bring jackets and enough layers for some degree of comfort. Hot soup at Twedes, layers of wool and nylon, and the heat of motion are enough but perhaps the best excuse for riding in the wind and rain is that it's the only way to find out what you need and what you want enough to take with you, for riding in the wind and rain.

I'm home at 4:00 PM, thinking not of what more I need to carry, but what else can be safely removed. The trails are out there, every day. I'm working on my next excuse to ride.

Keep 'em rolling,



Unknown said...

Far more important to me by the day is the freedom to take off and ride on a Monday, rather than to make my first million. Chasing the dollar is looking more and more like one of the follies of youth.

... now if only someone would pay for my kids' education, my modest mortgage, maybe some insulation, and a new Surly, I could shake off these golden handcuffs....


Anonymous said...

Nice one...what WAS my excuse for today? I think it was just time for it, and the weather is not as relevant as most people think. It felt good; is that enough of a reason? Val

Jim G said...

GAH I want a $100 Stumpjumper _exactly_ like that one!

jimmythefly said...

Ha, I just posted a sort of "I'm riding here on X date at X time" to a bunch of folks, so I'm committed. I get most of my practice at rationalizing this time of year.