Wednesday, September 26, 2018

On becoming inspired.

You never can tell from whence inspiration might arise.  It's often yet more difficult to figure out where previous inspiration has vanished to.  Sometimes it's just plain gone, no telling where.

Of late I simply haven't been inspired to ride much.  I've done it anyway, needing both the exercise and the mental clarity that comes from simultaneously incinerating endorphins while inhaling crisp air and moving gracefully through changing terrain.

I've done it because I needed to, but not really because of any burning desire.  Which is sorta weird.

It's sorta weird because for literal decades I didn't need a reason to swing a leg over a saddle and head out.  It was just what I did, day after day and mile after mile.  Asking me why I rode would net the same answer as asking why I breathed.  Or ate.  

Because I needed to.  Doesn't everyone?

That was then, and right now 'then' seems like a long time ago.

This past weekend Jeny and I somewhat unexpectedly found ourselves in the mountains, among old friends, getting amongst loam, duff, rock, and trees as the season approached it's zenith.

We didn't cover a ton of ground as that simply wasn't the point of the day.  The pace would best be described as 'inchworming': moving in what felt like very fast fits and starts and then taking long breaks to share stories, nab a micro nap, have a snack, or just be still in the cathedral-esque groves.  

It was while hiking up an unrideable pitch that it occurred how inspiring this group of people is to me.  I suppose if you're in the right frame of mind you can take inspiration from just about anything, but more often we (ahem, "I") find ourselves cruising along on autopilot and taking things for granted.

Perhaps in private moments the individuals in this group might also cop to taking things for granted, but even squinting real hard it's hard to see where, or when.  Or how.  They seem to be about as fired up about everything as any group I've ever spent time with.  Even if they wouldn't necessarily think of themselves as 'a group'.

I'd give a satchel of nickels to understand what gets them out of bed in the morning as fired up as they all always seem to be.  I used to have that fire -- for several decades on end -- but as this particular decade comes to a close it just isn't there.


Even if that overburdened satchel wasn't enough to persuade them to give up their secrets it wouldn't really matter: What motivates them is irrelevant: I need to figure out what motivates me.

One easy answer is that riding with this particular crew -- and especially as the mountains transition from green to brown to white -- certainly does.

But that's too easy.  I need to get more fundamental than that.  I need to realize that this thing -- that I have done obsessively for 44 of the 48 years I've been lucky enough to be above ground and breathing, this thing that has given me most of the most memorable moments in my life, that has taken me to most of my favorite places, desert and arctic, peak and valley, and brought me back home again -- is not a right, not a given, not to be taken for granted.

The simple act of experiencing the world from the saddle of a bike is, like the most important people in our lives, a privilege.  It could, can, and might be taken away at a moment's notice.  Happens to other people all the time.  Could happen to me tomorrow.  Maybe today.

Time for me to flip the conundrum on it's head and stop taking this thing for granted.  Time to get inspired again.

I know that my last several posts here have jumped the tracks and gone deep down the rabbit hole of reflection and perseveration.  Life has changed dramatically the past few years and the new pattern seems to be less certain in ways both big and small.  It's happening to you, too, even if you aren't paying attention.  In a nut, mere existence is feeling more finite and delicate than ever, and I've been thinking a lot about it.  Obviously.  Thanks for indulging me as I work through it.


  1. Home Run!!! Resonates Deeply With Me. Brilliant Photos And Amazingly Written.

    Thank You,

  2. Thanks Mike. I needed this

  3. I need to find some inspiration as well.

  4. Thanks once again!

  5. Well done and yes. Is there an emoticon just to show that this resonates w/ me?
    Thanks MC.

  6. Awesome post and fabulous pictures! I am now closer to 60 than 50 and totally understand where you're coming from.

  7. Ok, so this hit the spot as many of you entries do...and like the other Bob it hits home being closer to 60 that 50 as well!!!

  8. I am so inspired by you, your photos and stories, and also by this crew. I feel so lucky, even if I'm flying (or hike-a-biking) at the very back most of the time, following you guys/gals. xoxo

  9. Introspection is a good thing, sir. Having gone through some emergency surgery just over 3 weeks ago and the care I will need over the next couple of months, I now look forward to eventually being back on the bike as I feel the act of cycling will be therapeutic and restorative in my recovery. This journey has probably made me realize so much I've taken for granted in my life and for which I am grateful. I always enjoy reading your words and viewing your images. The autumn photographs inspire reflection. Thanks, again!

  10. Geez Man! Jaded, rich person, mid life existential dilemma!

    Might try some Eckhart Tolle or the Mind of Absolute Trust ( perhaps a trip to a poorer part of the earth for some perspective...forget inspiration!


    Get another dog Mike!! Seriously!

    You have to get *comfortable* or at least accept the ambiguity in this ride man! You might have a long way to go!


    1. Fascinating perspective, Buzz.

      We've never met, thus it is impressive that you can "know" these things (jaded, rich) about me that haven't the least bit of basis in actual fact.

  11. Same here, been a strange summer. Divorce, introspection. Been taking time to look at the flowers and the leaves changing. The bike is there, always will be when I need it. I know the other side of this winter is green and lush, but I am in no hurry to miss the winter. Thanks Mike, my work computer needed a new wallpaper, fall colors replace Hampsten on the Gavia

  12. I couldn't have said this better myself...

  13. Dead on. For me it still ebbs and flows.

  14. This post is worth everyone's attention. When can I find out more?