Yesterday I took a “day off” from work. My brain feels a bit frazzled and my nerves are shot. You know when you come to a point in life that you finally realize that what you are currently doing has run its course and it no longer holds promise. Well, it’s how I’m feeling now except the end is still two months away. I’ve heard people calling this condition “short timers syndrome.”

After a ride downtown for lunch with b I picked up my single speed dirt bike from the shop and went for a spin. It was in the shop in the first place because the old fork was blown and all the oil leaked out months ago. I decided it would be best to replace it with a rigid fork and choose cleaner lines on the trail. I also installed a new front tire because the old one had a bubble of inner tube sticking out of a hole in the sidewall. Not an ideal situation when you’re a few miles from home or in the bush. My buddy at the bike shop scored a super nice new saddle for me as well. The old saddle had bent rails, probably from T-Bone launching my bike on jumps, and was giving me one sore cheek if you know what I mean.

The bike’s got a simple set-up: one speed (2 to 1 gear ratio), rear brake, comfortable saddle, fat grippy tires with medium pressure, and platform pedals to round it all off. People always refer to single speeds feeling like a big BMX. And man if it’s not the truth.

When I was about nine or ten living in Venezuela, my brother and I got our first bikes. At the time the style was to add a 5 speed freewheel and shifter to BMX bikes. Now keep in mind that this was in rural Venezuela in the early 80’s. The truth was that the roads sucked and were dangerous, we are at the foothills of the Andes Mountains so there were some decent climbs, and we had no bike magazines or bike culture. It was a free for all as far as bike customizing went and there was no bike culture to dictate what was cool and what wasn’t. I remember that the set-ups never worked very well but I blame it on the fact you could only get your hands on shitty parts. Anyway, the sons of bitches worked and we rode and rode on all the dirt roads around our town. Can you imagine us flying down some dirt rode on our clunky Franken-bmx’s with slingshots in our back pockets? Those were the days.

In 1987, my family moved to Bartow, Florida, another rural town with not much to do but ride your bike. My brother and I were gifted used BMX bikes by our grandfather. As time went on, we learned a little more about the whole BMX thing. I don’t mean racing and freestyle, but rather what would now be termed “urban assault.” We had launch ramps, trails in the woods, street runs where we would follow each other and hit any hip or take any drop, ditches, loading docks, and just cruising too. Now when I think back I remember those days with zeal, all day on our bikes riding miles around our little town never thinking twice about distance, gears or shocks.

As I rode my super light 26” dirt rig yesterday (super light ‘cause it’s pretty stripped down) I started to get that feeling again. The feeling that you don’t really have a destination or a time constraint. A single speed is conducive to an unconscious spin. Next thing you know you’re lookin for little lips to bunny hop off of and get a little squirrely. As I rode down the bike path along the river I came to a little bit of single track. The paved path lies about twenty feet above the trail. I dropped in and was suddenly transported back to the good ‘ol days, except that it’s still the good ‘ol days.

Ride your bike!

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