Monday, 12 November 2007

Time for taking stock

After such a big trip, intense planning and execution and post-event catch-up / wind down can leave you feeling a little, well vacant and empty. Riding the MTB Himachal was an exercise in enforced simplicity and purity, ie. you ate because you were really hungry and you slept because you were dog tired, two basic things that we rarely do in the western world with any great regularity. Petty things like TV programs, work hassle, DIY and other "concerns" we fill ourselves up with in everyday life just didn't appear on the radar. Coming back to the "normal" way of life has been rather odd and I have had to adapt some what to get back into the swing of things.

I am not totally reverting to my old self though. I plan to ride more and further on a regular basis. I have switched back to rigid and fixed and now feel more at home on the bike despite the perceived "hindrance" of such a set up. Local rides are approached with a nonchalant air of someone who does not need a bag full of "just in case" kit and extraneous gubbins to enjoy the ride. The only bad bit is all the mud :) I am also planning more long distance events to test my self now I know my limits lie somewhere beyond the horizon of my expectations. Audax events and bivvi trips are the two way I see this going. There are just not enough long distance MTB events in the UK (forget 24hr races and "enduros", that shit just don't do it for me) that are a) remote and challenging and b) not silly £££ entry fees.

I also plan to get by with less, consider my actions more carefully and plan a little more. Having seen the abject poverty in Delhi and the meager possession of other people in India I have really woken up to all the crap we buy "just because..." does not make us better or happier (EDIT: see later in this post for more info, I really can't be bothered to edit it as I would rather spend time with Becca and I can always re-visit this after a long solo ride to mull it over) In fact walking round the new Habitat store in cheltenham made me feel really uneasy. Now I am not talking about giving everything away and living in a commune but as the Solitude strap-line said, Need Less - Do More. Guess I sort of forgot about that in the rush to Do More.

Bivvi trips will most likely be "ride form the door step" 2-3dayers with minimal kit and planning. I would love to try some audax events in the 200-400km range and possibly a 600km later in the year. I don't plan on a new bike, well I did sketch out an audax frame and kit list but realised that I could throw slicks and a 15t sprocket on the 29er (along with a rack if needed) and make do. I know the position is fine for 200km+ and the kit is top-notch and durable. I did take a look at (and perform a currency conversion) one of these as the last one was great and I think it would be the ultimate "do it all" bike (with cantis so I can fit CX tyres and get silly in the mud) although the kit would be very similar to the 29er!

I am currently reading the "The way of happiness" by HH the Dali Lama. Now I am not a "spiritual" person and have a pretty pragmatic out look on life and thought that this book might be a little "airy fairy" but I was very happy to find that HH has a very common sense approach to the problems of the world and ways to improve your life which don't involve tie-dye, joss sticks and "spirits" Now I don't see my self becoming a Buddhist but I can certainly see the benefit in their approach.

The basics are to see your self as a human being and know that you are like all the other people. That you want to increase your happiness and decrease your suffering. That all other sentient beings want the same and you should do all you can to assist them. Sounds like common sense to me.


miketually said...

Simpler definately seems to be better. I've gone back to water bottles instead of a camelback.

I almost bought some skinny road tyres for the century ride I did on my Solitude in September. In the end, I did it on the same 42c tyres I used at SSUK in Bristol and it was fine. I keep saying to myself that I'll take it on a "proper" off-road ride when I get some 2" tyres for it. I think I need to just ride, instead of thinking about what tyres.

I'm planning on some longer one- and multi-day rides next year, too.

Nightfire said...

Alex, we need to mee up and do some riding!

Alex said...

And I will tear your legs off Phil ;)

Drop me an email some time.