This Is Why: A Short One Act Play

By: Matthew Karre Nov 10

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A father and teenage son sit in the kitchen having an inspired discussion about the finer points of cycling.

SON: “Dad, a funny man in a Chris King hat said ‘mountain biking makes me hate road riding.’ For some reason, I responded to him, ‘Me too. And I love road biking.’ How can that be, Dad?”

FATHER: “Well, you see, son, mountain biking takes all the best parts of road riding, magnifies them by a factor of awesome, and then adds to it the coefficient of transcendental opulence. Does that answer your question?”

SON: “Hmm. Not really. Mostly because I think you just made up the phrase transcendental opulence. How can I love road riding truly, madly and deeply but hate it while I’m riding a mountain bike on sweet, sweet, tacky, flowing single track? My wheels even have the same diameter on both bikes. (700c for life!)”

FATHER: “It’s probably not hate you feel. It’s more likely a sense of frustration with both sides of the cycling coin. Perhaps you feel you can’t love them both, so while you’re with one you take pleasure in the fact that you’ve chosen it but feel a little guilty for taking time away from the other. It’s kind of like the cycling manifestation of Don Draper."

SON: “Oh, yeah. That makes sense. Shouldn’t there be something that combines both? Maybe with yet another kind of bike?”

FATHER: “You mean track racing? That’s not really a different bike, and I don’t see how mountain biking plays a big role.”

SON: “No, not track. I don’t think I could afford having to custom make my cycling shorts to fit the size of quadriceps needed to be any good at that. Besides, I get dizzy easily. I was thinking maybe cyclocross?”

FATHER: “Ha! Are you kidding? Cyclocross has become the family fun 5k of bike racing. Sure real runners show up to running races benefitting some disease but have you noticed the same 4 people win every time? The rest just need an excuse to dress up like fools to disguise their nonexistent training.”

SON: “I don’t think training is required to have fun on a bicycle.”

FATHER: “It is when the event only exists as competition. There’s no such thing as a cyclocross ride. That would be defined as training for a cyclocross race, which we know only 4 people really do, or it’s a road ride on the dirt. Cyclocross equals competition: entry fees, course tape, spectators, and a podium all take their place.”

SON: “Huh. Is it possible you say these unnecessarily crass things about cyclocross because you’re no good at it?”

FATHER: “You are wise beyond your years, son. But your directness about my inadequacies reminds me of what Dr. Huxtable said to Theo in The Cosby Show: ‘I brought you into this world. I can take you out!’”

SON: “Quoting ancient TV shows isn’t very threatening. Next you’ll tell me that your brothers Daryl and Daryl are coming over. But seriously, what of this love/hate relationship between road riding and mountain biking?”

FATHER: “There’s no right answer. You can ride and race both styles and probably live a well balanced and fulfilled life, although perhaps a life that is emotionally confused at times.”

SON: “Do you think Cadel can sleep at night after making the switch from full on mountain biker to top of the heap road racer? Does he have these debates in his head?”

FATHER: “Could be why his voice is so high.”

SON: “I know, right?”

FATHER: “Well, it is what it is, kid.”

SON: “Please don’t say that.”

FATHER: “Say what?”

SON: “It is what it is.’ Don’t say that.”

FATHER: “Why?”

SON: “Because! Of course it is what it is! If it wasn’t what it was then it wouldn’t be at all. It’s a stupid phrase for uncreative iPhone junkies.”

FATHER: “Do you know what a non sequitur is?”

Fade to black. Close curtain. Look at images. Figure out that This Is Why.


Living The Cantilever Lifestyle

By: Matthew Karre Oct 17

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It’s the terror of knowing what his world is about—Bowie

Once or twice a year I awkwardly insert myself into the cantilever lifestyle. I have many friends there, so it’s not that I’m unfamiliar, in fact more of my friends live this lifestyle than don’t. This scenario for me is likely similar to Bob Newhart attending a party at the Playboy Mansion: he recognizes folks he knows, makes nervous small talk with the bunnies as they put a set of bunny ears on his head, and wanders around with a colorful drink.

Once counter culture, the cantilever way of living is now culture dictator. Full clothing lines are inspired by the cantileverites, as well as websites, magazines, skin creams and food carts. Many, if not all members, serve many masters by appropriating the tried and true, inspiration-for-all subsequent lifestyles—meaning road cycling—as preparation. To think upon reading this last sentence that some sort of relegation has occurred seems folly to me. To me, it should always be the other way around; but alas this is often the case: road riding and racing as preparation for cyclocross.

The cantilever lifestyle is very open (and by the way, if you have disc brakes or mini-V’s on your cantilever lifestyle bike, you are still a member). It will accept all riders without hesitation or ultimatum. Constant encouragement comes from all members, and even fringe associates who aren’t ready to participate or perhaps never will, will happily speak in rich superlatives about participation. Many believe that the cantilever lifestyle is much less intimidating than the more traditional road lifestyle (sometimes known as the Less than or equal to 28mm Lifestyle, the Skinny Tire Society, Get on your Bike and Stay On it Movement, or just Cycling. It is not, however, known as Roadie Lifestyle. That refers to the underpaid servants of overpaid rock bands. Not sure how it got mixed up with riding bikes but I hope it goes away soon.), which is somewhat paradoxical given the size of the audience. Cantilever lifestyle events generally out-spectate skinny tire events by huge numbers. But this perhaps is where Bowie’s words have the most meaning: participation in the cantilever lifestyle is highly socially motivated, from impetus to encouragement to rate of recidivism. The potential for failure is much higher as uncontrollable factors are aplenty, specifically environmental and equipment factors. The terror, for instance, of knowing two laps in that 30 psi is six pounds too low for this root and rock adorned off camber descent (Under Pressure, get it?).

More terror: the terror of knowing that participation equals bleeding money. The terror of knowing that this 45 to 60 minutes of effort is much too long, and yet way too short. And then there’s clean up. The terror of knowing that this lifestyle has an awkward and short window of opportunity, and soon enough another nine months will come between lifestyle completion and restart.

The term Cantilever Lifestyle now has less to do with the actual functionality of cantilever brakes, though I’m sure there’s a wonderful metaphor there I just can’t decipher. Cantilever functionality, or lack thereof, is embraced and accepted by members. The terror of knowing that speed control is not an option has become the initial, and perhaps only, rite of passage in becoming a member. Fork chatter, tortuous howling sounds, lack of stopping power; members care not of these things. Other lifestyle members do. I do. Perhaps I live in fear. Fear of the terror of others knowing about my lack of handling skills. A wise man once quipped, “if I wanted to not stop, I never would have retired from semi-professional sledding.”

All photos by Dave Roth.


On Peaking

By: Matthew Karre Sep 4

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On Peaking:
And we’re back. The road has been long and twisted, with frequent painful sections of deep, loose gravel. There comes a point when going faster isn’t physically possible. This magic moment has little to do with desire, ability, or external conditions, and everything to do with voodoo (read: physiological things I don’t understand). It can be easily likened to a rubber band stretched to its maximum. Though never severing, it can expand no more and even gently contracts to an invisibly smaller size. Try as you might, the band will not give a millimeter. To assert its dominance, the voodoo shrinks the rubber band another immeasurable amount. Swear up and down it was farther stretched last time, but the voodoo reveals no hints, no timelines and no resolutions.

Piqued Off:
And after years of similar antics, one foolishly tries to predict the voodoo, perhaps even preempt it with some haughty justification. The season is changing, it’s time to go for fun rides and maybe go mountain biking. No shit. It’s always time for fun rides! And go mountain biking when the fancy strikes. Never forget that. Allow the voodoo to run its course, embrace it, welcome it. Force its presence by adding the extra seven miles to the ride that lead to a better story at its end. Things are going in the right direction when the voodoo comes knocking.

And while not a justification, I do anxiously, nay, aggressively await autumn’s auspices; always affording awesome arboreal amusement (top that one…). While in no way do I ever want summer to end, its latter weeks are perhaps the best of the year. The lighting is brilliant, the temperatures purely pleasant, the air invigorating. This time of year for some falls into the denoument of form and fitness, the peak ascended and the other side visible. But for others it begins a new cycle. A look of intensity and passion is a clear sign of things to come, the rhythm of the bike on terrain becomes natural and flowing until finally all elements line up for a climactic overture. I believe this video portrays these words better than any other I can think of. The music, the tangible mental preparation, the intensity.

Please turn it up:

Now go savor a delicious chocolate bar. You’ve earned it.

And while on the subject of reaching one’s peak, this video is truly the highest point Youtube will ever reach. With many peaks and valleys in its past and future, all efforts will be judged against this brief moment of insight:

And to conclude this diatribe, (and to discontinue beginning every paragraph with and…) a few images of good people, and myself , who have peaked, piqued or are peeking. No news on Peking, though. Never been there.


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