I prefer sandlot rules and pick-up games. Pick teams and go for it. Call your own fouls, play until dark or someone has to go home. No refs, no registration, no uniforms, and no rules other than those universally recognized on the playgrounds of the world. Something about the organization, the ranking, and the clinical approach to determining a first and a last sucks the fun out of sports for me, especially those sports that thrive just fine without those things. I am only speaking for myself here, so no offense to my racer friends, many of whom also soul ride with the outlaws and outliers as well. I want to be faster than all of you, stronger than anyone on a given day- but never line up to prove it. I want to haunt the court like Earl Manigault at Rucker Park, watch surf contests from the shadows like Miki Da Cat. I want the winners to know there is someone out there who can take it all away from them. Victory is fleeting, but legend is eternal.
I have a few friends I consider bike legends. A 43 year-old flying over road gaps in the woods of Oregon, no Go Pro camera necessary- just doing it for the sake of flight, or another one humbly plowing the sands of the Apalachicola National Forest seeing moment after pine needle-dappling moment of north Florida beauty that gets saved in an organic database, or as ink on a page, but never in a series of 1’s and 0’s. One rides a grit-splattered steel frame powering down the rainy bike lanes of Highway 27, alone in the night near Lake Okeechobee, pushing a two-hundred mile day alone in the saddle, 18-wheelers pulling the air-horn in warning and salute.
I really don’t need to compare them, or myself, or racing to anything else. I just need to say they inspire me, and I will forever lift their achievements up around campfires and hunched over handlebars. Every time I clip in or swing a leg over the saddle I know the potential is inside me.
Epic is everywhere.