Words Liam Friary
Image Cameron Mackenzie

The past few weeks have been a really good reminder of how great bike riding is. There are two instances that really stand out. Firstly, I happened to be in Central Otago attending and talking at Trail Forum, which is something. I mean, rewind about a decade or more and you wouldn’t have this amount of people engaged in riding let alone having businesses that now rely solely on it, and not to mention the regional tourism organisations that clearly know the economic impact of cycling in their regions. It’s truly amazing and I hope we can continue to build trails, foster more riding communities, and create better cycling infrastructure across the motu. It was after this event that an unscheduled ride became an epic outing with four riders who didn’t know each other. I was like the conduit blending these individuals together, knowing that riding would bond them. And, it did. After an all-day ride, we were all mates sharing large amounts of conversation, ups, downs, and good times. Bikes were simply the portal that helped us take in the landscape and connect with us one another. You can’t have that quantity – or quality! – of time in a meeting room (in-person or online) or even sitting in a coffee shop with someone. The standout for me is undistracted time where the other person is engaged and listening without any device diverting their attention. This simplicity is what I crave; just riding and conversing is so refreshing in this fast-paced age.

The second reminder was a ride with a good friend. We don’t get to catch up that often as work and life schedules don’t always align, and we’re not the best at conversing over digital platforms. I mean, we used it to make a meet-up spot but that’s pretty much it. I find a ride meet-up will fill me in so much more about how my friend is doing, rather than a flurry of text exchanges. I got to the mountain bike park, unloaded my bike, clipped my helmet on, and checked my phone… only to read a message from my friend, telling me they couldn’t make it as they weren’t feeling well. I was committed and went riding anyway. The solo riding time helped me decompress from life’s never-ending to-do list and growing work commitments. I connected with nature, stretched myself on rowdy trails and just had some ‘me’ time. I drove back thinking about how that’s not just a ‘want’ but more of a ‘need’ now. I don’t often allow myself the time, but often putting aside part of the day for a solo ride lets me gain perspective on everything. I missed my mate that day, but thoroughly enjoyed shredding the trials alone. You never regret the ride you went on.

This article is taken from:NZ Mountain Biker, Issue #114

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