Bike rides are composed of so much more than pedaling and steering. Sometimes they revolve around myriad technical facets like proper form, efficient handling, and effort management. Other times they take on a completely different focus when you hone in on the surrounding beauty, let the wind pass over you, and memories of the freedom you felt the first time you swung your leg over that singlespeed you owned as a child fill your head.
Piedmont trail in Duluth, Minnesota ...
Recently I’ve come home from some rides feeling frustrated and cursing my perceived lack of skill. I’ve beaten myself up for not being able to clean a difficult climb or get through a rock garden without a dab. Those rides resulted in me mumbling, "I suck," as I carelessly stowed the bike in the rack. Yet other rides ended with a, "Man, was I on today!" as I contemplated the corners I railed, the climbs I made, and the descents that were handled without hesitation. Unfortunately, I’ve been experiencing those rides with less frequency these past few months. What’s been missing? What’s been wrong?
I’ve spent a lot of time pondering these questions when it finally occurred to me that the answer is "nothing." Nothing is missing! All that I hope for from a ride is within the trail, the bike, and me. The real problem has been that I’ve been looking for that special something in all the wrong places. I’ve been equating technical skill and hard physical effort to great rides. I couldn’t have been more wrong. What about that feeling I had as a kid? I never demanded physical excellence from myself at age 12, and those bike rides were the best! Can I tap into that feeling at will or will it just show up sometimes?
After careful consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that finding the perfect ride lies within the art of letting go. When my mind goes blank, and I can hear the wind humming through the vents of my helmet, I know I’ve found it. When I can no longer hear my bike or feel the imperfections of the trail, I know I’m doing it. When I’m floating down a ribbon of singletrack with my heartbeat in my ears, I know I can ride forever. It’s then that I know I’ve found the perfect ride.
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Tim (Eki) Ek
Tim Ek was born and raised in Duluth, Minn., and still calls it home. He’s always had a passion for competition and seeking his own extremes. Tim's true love is the woods: Out in the wild is where he clears his head and finds his peace, and he prefers getting there by bike. Tim Ek: The Eki Chronicles, ekichronicles2.kinetic-fitness.com