Friday, August 15

Athletic self expression?

I'm not sure if it's friday or the rain but today's blog has me (poorly) waxing a bit philosophical. I had another post ready but the weather put a damper on that until Monday. So instead you're now stuck with my rambling...

I've not a great artist. I don't sing in public lest non valuable things be thrown in my direction. My high school cello playing left much to be desired for those forced to listen to it unaccompanied by the rest of the orchestra. However athletics have often been an outlet for me where those watching at least didn't have to run away in horror. From the early days of endless late nights perfecting my basketball skills to the current almost never ending bike rides, I find solace and an avenue for expression through my muscles. Consistently pushing harder and further, muscular strength has given way to increasing mental strength whether that's pushing without sleep or focusing my way through technical downhills alone and where a fall would be most unwise. And as I ride, the further I go, the more beautiful things I see. The more beautiful things I see, the more I wonder how to share them with others and also as my dad points out, bring about a greater good from the experience. What's the answer to that? I don't know but I'm working on figuring it out.

Certainly one positive aspect of my cycling progression has been an in depth understanding of what I truly need as a person, both on a physical survival level and gradually on an emotional level as well. As Marni can attest, I have a deeply ingrained drive to live simply. Sure I can be distracted by shiny bikes, cool electronics and flashy gear as much as the next person but given time to settle down I'm usually longing to jettison unneeded stuff. The point of all this chatter of course is "what next?" and "where do I go from here?". While walking home from our Starbucks date this morning, I couldn't help but ponder a reoccurring viewpoint of mine or perhaps it's a hypothesis.

Foot travel is the purest form of athletic self expression.

I used to run. I like running and hiking a lot. And when you're on foot, you free yourself of the bike equipment, many of the things which can break, the need to upgrade components and the consumables of tires, brake pads, chains, etc. When you run, all you really need is shoes and some would argue you can do without those. Running is allowed everywhere with no Wilderness restrictions. When you're on foot, scrambling on unrideable terrain is much faster and snow travel is viable with far fewer restrictions.

Running is not without it's problems however. Even for those with relatively indestructible bodies it's hard on the knees and feet. Plus it's definitely slower in most terrain requiring an increased time to travel the same distance which in turn requires more food and for most of us, vacation days. Let's not forget too that running downhill in no way can compete with the fun of down hilling on a mountain bike.

So foot travel is back on the radar this fall and winter. I'm not ready to give up cycling because, well, it's awesome and I love it. But I'm hoping I can reach some sort of equilibrium where at least for certain parts of the year I can do both without totally sucking on my feet. I do have unfinished business with everything from my goal 5k PR to a real actual marathon not done in training. And of course there are many fastpacking type trips bouncing around in my head in non bike legal or accessible terrain. First up, Yellowstone adventure with DaveC...


Scott said...

But have you ever seen a runner who doesn't have a look of anguish on their face as they run? Bikers usually always have big smiles on their faces, except for when rangers are beating them down for not respecting their author-itay!

Chris said...

Haha yea I think so. I think usually the anguished people are more like "joggers". Getting into running shape takes me at least a solid month but after that it's quite enjoyable, for me anyway.

Cellarrat said...

funny I've been thinking that a good 40-50 mile hike though egales nest wilderness is due for me on the 24th-25th...

However running is not

Maybe chris you should go for a leadman next summer?


Fonk said...

Personally, I find it easier to stay motivated to workout by doing both cycling and running. Variety is the spice of life, as they say.

Also, as you pointed out, running can be very freeing in its simplicity. No equipment to worry about - just a pair of running shoes and you're set.

Fall's the best time to pick up running, too, IMO. The weather's great, beautiful scenery (Fall colors), etc. Maybe you could come down here to the Springs and contest our Fall Series ( this year. :)


Jill said...

Chris, it's funny ... the first part of your post touched on an idea I've been formulating for a while now. I have been imagining up a whole dissertation on a concept I call "creative cycling" ... looking at your questions from a different perspective ... how do I, as a predominantly creative and decidedly nonathletic person, justify a passion dedicated to athletic pursuits? Anyway, it still runs a little deep to write anything coherent about it. But maybe I'll call you up sometime for an interview. :-)

Anyway - running. I couldn't more completely agree. I don't have the body or desire to take it far the way I do cycling, but you can't dispute foot is the purest and most versitle way to travel.

Chris said...

Jill - It's an interesting topic for sure. It came to me pretty quickly yesterday morning but didn't come out on the blog as eloquently as I had hoped. I guess it needs further thought. Either way, drop me an email or call anytime. Geoff has my number.

Dave - Leadman...yes that's very much on my to-do list. Next year I'm not sure because I've got a bike heavy first half of the year but 2010 is a possibility.

Lummox said...

Wow. Very fascinating stuff. I love what you are working with here.

Of course you and I have an affinity for mountain biking, but slightly different flavors of it. That being said, hanging out with single speeders, I find myself pushing taller gears. Hanging out with enduro-nuts, I find myself enjoying ever-greater distances.

It so happens that I find a center and an energy in mountain biking. But it is clear that is not the only place stuff like that can be found. Others would be able to find it in different things. Rock climbing, auto racing, basket weaving, work, etc, if you do it rightly, that same stuff is in there at the center of it. When enthusiasts of all the different things sit down to talk, if they have the same kind of awareness, I think they can’t help but to gain from that same center being expressed through different perspectives and experience.

Geoff said...

when i haven't ridden my bike for awhile it always seems like a chore to get out for a ride. gotta pump up the tires; make sure i still have tubes, pump, patches, tools in my pack; find my helmet, shoes, and gloves; and then carry the bike up a flight of stairs and out the door. running on the other hand: i just walk out the door and start running. there's something very liberating about the simplicity.

and yes, running has more impact on knees/joints, etc. but running is also a natural motion for the human body, something that humans have done throughout their existence. for this reason i think it's easier for our bodies to adapt to the stresses of running (i.e. i think it's a lot easier to work through overuse issues that arise from running than from cycling, even though these running issues may seem more prevelant and more severe at the time).