Friday, February 24, 2012

Never Going Back to OK

It's not the end but it feels like it is
I'm waking up like I'm back from the dead
I'm stepping out and it feels so free
But as long as I'm moving it's alright

That's the opening verse in a song sung by The Afters and the song is titled "Never Going Back to OK."  I've heard the song a lot but today I listened to the words for the first time. The song isn't about cycling. It's about something else that's much more important but just like most everything else I run up against in life it reminded me of my cycling. I've had my share of struggles and have come out of some pretty bum-deal things and I don't want to get too over dramatic and say that cycling saved me because it didn't and it hasn't but cycling has allowed my to "step out" and away from some things about me that I don't like and has made me free and alright.

I can't remember how many years ago it was but it had been a long time since I had been on a bike. I decided one day out of the blue that I was going to do a triathlon after seeing one in process at Yuba Lake. Well, I needed a bike and found a used bike on KSL that looked OK and I thought I could afford it. Actually it was half a bike and after buying it from the guy I had to find a bike shop that could help me with the other half of the bike that I needed.

It was on old Vitus 979 from the mid-eighties. I could only find one bike shop in this area that had ever heard of Vitus bikes so I took it there and Scott Golsen helped me put my half-a-bike together. Looking back and knowing now a little more about bikes than I did then, Scott did an extremely good standup job of helping me piece the old Vitus together. I needed a front wheel and tires, bar tape, a seat, shoes, pedals, cleats, a helmet, a tune-up and some other odds and ends.

Vitus 979
The old Vitus was actually a pretty cool bike. It had a good mix of old components, even if I didn't know it at the time. And I remember the first time I clipped in and went for a ride. That front tire looked SO thin. That bike was SO quiet. It didn't make a sound as it rolled along. Even when I stopped pedaling, you could barely hear the pawls in the rear hub. That old bike was extremely smooth and fast. Unfortunately it came with a 12/21 freewheel and I quickly found out I could barely make it up an overpass.

I feel alive and it hurts for a change
I'm looking back its hard to believe
That I was cool with the days that I wasted
Complacent and tasteless and bored
But that was yesterday

That seems like forever ago and it did take me a few years to get serious about cycling because I didn't like the pain involved. Eventually I began riding enough to improve some and I started liking it more and more. The pain I mean. It is hard to believe that I ever got past that point of being OK with it hurting when I rode but I did and I got better at it. I never did the triathlon but I'm still convinced that someday I will.

We're never going back to OK
We're never going back to easy
We're never going back to the way it was
We're never going back to OK

The chorus of this song pretty much sums things up for me. I'm not going back to the way it was. I'm not going back to OK. I'm not going back to easy. I can't imagine not riding again. I know a day will likely come when I can't but until that day I'm going to ride. It's going to hurt. I'm going to feel alive and it is going to feel so free. It's going to be alright and I'm going to keep moving as long as I can.

This discontent, like a slap in the face
A mediocre I've had enough of this place
This party's over and I'm moving away
From the frills of your Beverly Hills
That was yesterday

We're never going back to OK
We're never going back to easy
We're never going back to the way it was
We're never going back to OK

We're here to stay
This is our time
My only life
Our chance to live

first long ride years ago on the Vitus 979
with my cotton base layer, triathlon shoes
and mountain bike helmet - total FREDness

I've had enough of mediocre and the frills so to speak. I'm not going back to the way it was. I am here to stay and it is my time. In my mind I have put a quarter in a big jar to represent every week that I thought I might have left in this life and with every week that passes I take one out. I did this in my mind because my wife doesn't want me to do it in real life. She says it makes her sad and depressed about my mortality. It seems she doesn't want to imagine a day without me.

But that day is coming and I'm counting it down in my mind by taking one of my imaginary quarters out of my imaginary jar for every week that goes by. I know that I'm not HERE to stay but I know that NOW is my time. As my imaginary jar gets emptier and emptier I try to remember to live my life in a way that makes a little bit of a difference to me, my wife, my kids and other people around me. That imaginary jar of quarters helps me to remember that this is my only life and it is my chance to live just like this song says. And every time I can get on my bike it is a gift. I feel alive and it hurts for a change and I'm never going back to OK. I'm never going back to easy.


  1. Those old Vitus frames were pretty damn cool looking. My return to biking was on converted mountian bikes and a 30+ year old Trek touring bike. I also had a MTB helmet and MTB shoes.

  2. Also, better to be a FRED than DEAD