Changes

“The moment you know you know, you know. “

-David Bowie

I started this blog a long time ago.  The objective, if there was one, was to share the positive things that cycling has done for me.  Back then, I naively believed that more people would cycle once they figured out how good it was for them.  Now I know they won’t.  Most people are pretty set in their ways.  Those who do want to improve, by and large, want a quick fix…a magic pill.  Cycling is not that.  Cycling takes a lot of time to change you.  

The Loess Hills.  This is as close to heaven on earth as a guy like me can get.

But that’s fine.   Cycling has changed me and that’s enough.  I still do it every day.  I can’t imagine a scenario in which I’ll ever stop.  Winter hasn’t stopped me.  I rode 18 miles one January day when the temperature was -14° and the wind chill was considerably lower.  Wind and rain and blistering summer heat hasn’t stopped me either.  Rattlesnakes and cougars and bobcats and moose haven’t stopped me.  I’ve run into all of these on the trail, and more.  Angry motorists who have serious issues and ought to be locked up in cages haven’t stopped me.  205 miles from Seattle to Portland didn’t stop me either.    Looking back, all of that stuff just made me hungrier for more saddle time.  I love being outdoors in God’s unpaved world.      

Encounters with rattlesnakes were pretty common in May and June on the bench east of Ogden Utah.   I learned that Great Basin Rattlesnakes like this one are docile and won’t attack unless cornered.  I’m no longer afraid of them.  Knowledge is power.

Unpaved…that’s the key.  In hindsight, that’s the real reason we came to Iowa.  I thought it was bike paths but they have bike paths everywhere.  Nobody has gravel like we do.  Well, maybe Nebraska and Kansas and South Dakota and eastern Colorado this side of the Rockies and that little southwestern corner of Minnesota do, but most places where people live don’t.  Gravel is endless in Iowa.  

And, increasingly, gravel is where I want to be.  I still ride to the grocery store and the post office.  I still pay my bills by bike.  That’s never going to change.  It’s just that those things are not enough.  I still want to ride, on average, 30 miles or so each and every day and most of those places are less than a mile from home.   If I want to go further, I can either take the Raccoon River Valley Trail down towards Des Moines or I can hop on gravel roads and go pretty much anywhere my heart desires.

I’ve made a lot of changes this year.  The biggest was riding from Seattle to Portland.  It made me realize what I am capable of.  I like how it made me feel, and so I want to do more of it.  What I didn’t like about StP was riding on the shoulders of busy highways to get from one to the other.   It’s not nearly as much fun as tearing down an empty gravel road with no cars buzzing me.  

And so I’m going to pull the plug on Pedalfree after four years.  I’ve started a new blog called Old Man Gravel (that’s me).  I’m going to be 60 years old (that’s old in a society focused on youth)  in 2019 and then I’m going to seek out gnarly gravel events, train for them and see if I can compete with the youngsters.  The first of these will be SBT GRVL on August 18, 2019…two weeks before my 60th birthday.  If that goes well, I’ll get serious about it. 

There are four other events I’d really like to ride while I still can.  One is the Land Run 100 in Stillwater Oklahoma.   The second is the Michigan Coast to Coast gravel grinder that runs from Au Gres on Lake Huron to Ludington on Lake Michigan.  It’s about 210 miles, more or less.  The DAMn (Day Across Minnesota) is a midnight to midnight 240 miler than extends from South Dakota to Cheeseland.     I saved the best for last.  I want to ride the DK200 (Dirty Kanza) just one time.  

If I’m able to do all that, I’ll figure out what comes next.   In the meantime, the new blog will be viewable at http://oldmangravel.wordpress.com.  If you’re interested, you can click on the site to follow along.  I may eventually re-brand the Pedalfree Facebook page to reflect the new site.  Then again, maybe I won’t.  If you want to reach out, email me at oldmangravel (at) protonmail (dot) com.

Happy Trails!