It hasn't always been this way, but I've become a creature of distinct preferences when it comes to where, how, and in what conditions I like to ride. Road, racing, or rain? Thank you, no. Not now, and likely not ever again.
The reasoning is simple--I've been riding bikes long enough to know what I like, and what I don't. Given the choice between sharing my ride with inattentive drivers and not, or ripping an interesting singletrack versus plodding along on pavement or gravel, there isn't a choice to be made.
My choices are made simpler by the visible presence of the sun 300+ days per year locally, as well as the fact that when the soil is wet (during or after precip) it is so sticky as to be impassable.
So yeah, if I've got the time to get out for a ride, it's going to be done in at least partial sunshine, on trail, and the more technical the better.
However, once a year I take a trip into the unknown, and instead of picking and choosing the what/when/how, I'm forced to relish whatever presents itself.
I'm writing, of course, about my impending 'sabbatical' in Alaska.
Back in 1997 I made my first trip north. I had no idea what I was getting into, got shellacked hard with the backlash of my own ignorance, and came home with a fresh perspective courtesy of that shellacking.
I've been back up to Alaska every year since, usually for close to a month. It has become a part of *me* to spend this annual chunk of time up yonder, wandering northwest with eyes wide open and searching for answers to the questions I'm still learning to ask.
I never know which questions will present themselves. It follows that I never know if I'll have the appropriate answers until I need them. And when I don't have them, I'm forced to learn, or adapt, in a shockingly quick and often brutal manner.
No better way to make a lesson stick than to learn it in this way.
Which reminds me that, with any luck, there will be a few more occasions in this lifetime where I may yet again achieve that rarest, most fleeting, and most coveted state: That of a satisfied mind.
Details on the upcoming trip to follow...