16 Aug 2017

Funsuck

WORDS & PHOTOS x Zach Faulkner

Funsuck [verb] \ˈfən ˈsək\: when the pleasure of the activity is matched by how much it will also be unenjoyable.

Riding bikes is everything to me. My job, my free time, my sleep time, it all revolves around the revolution of wheels. It has always been this way. Being astride a bicycle has been my greatest interest since the time before I was forming memories. My mom tells a story about how she lost me one day…in the house. I was nowhere to be found. When she saw my shoes were not in the entrance way, she opened to door to the garage to see me struggling to buckle my helmet while holding my bike. Tenacity is also a life-long trait I guess.

Just shy of three decades later, not a whole lot has changed (although my helmet buckle is now magnetic so that takes some of the guess work out of the process). All I want to do is go zipping through the woods atop rubber hoops, suspended by air and springs. It’s a simple thrill, which is relatable no matter the skill-level of the rider. There is an intangible sensation derived from the sounds of mechanical functions and the accompanying whooshing of air and dirt as distance is gained with each extension and retraction of the pistons we call legs.

It’s a compulsion, a need; I don’t just like being outside – I have to be outside. I lose my general sensibilities if I’m stuck indoors for too long. For this reason I’m not just a fair-weather rider and I will ride when I want, regardless of the conditions. From scorching heat to snow, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just poor preparation. Driven by my desire to ride whenever possible, I am however often faced with the conundrum of, “will this ride be fun?”

I’d say my going rate is around 70/30. At its core riding bikes is always fun, but the superficial truth is that some days suck, big time. It’s genuinely not fun riding in heat that even silences the birds. It’s miserable riding in the winter when you can’t feel your fingers or toes. But, let’s be honest, there is something masochistic about a shitty ride that can in-turn be talked about as “a great day out”. I like to refer to this phenomenon as “Funsuck”: it’s fun because I’m outside on a bike, but it sucks because [insert excuse here].

 

Driven by ADHD and a constant hum of energy coursing through every fiber of my being, I will literally be groaning with discontent on the drive to the trail head and muttering to myself, “this is gonna suck…oh well, at least it’s sunny…”, or something to that effect. There is also a small point of pride when I send out a group text asking if anyone wants to join in on the action, and I get at least two responses along the lines of: “You’re seriously riding today?”. Rain or shine, hot or cold, if I fancy a ride, I get after it.

To be fair though, on days when I just can’t be bothered to ride, I don’t. There is a fine line between pushing myself, and listening to a body that isn’t running optimally. Being lazy and unmotivated is different from being rundown and tired. It’s important to listen to your body. But, after a day of computer work in a café in the Port du Soleils, it’s not unreasonable to go for a 10-mile road climb at 8pm on the day before the longest day of the year. Catharsis is achieved in many ways.

I think understanding that a lot of life will Funsuck is important to keeping a proper perspective. We have obligations, commitments, and random tasks which will always govern how our days are divided up. But, so long as committing to getting out into the elements and pitting yourself and machine against the hills is part of that regime then general sanity and physical well-being can be maintained – all in the face of what the kids are calling, “Adulting”.

Too often the best days I’ve had were during rides I initially wasn’t too sure about; a lead-legged climb or a rain-soaked single-track attack. I believe it’s because you end up wanting it more, the thrills are earned, not given, and one is reminded why riding bikes in the woods is such a treat. If you only ride when it’s “nice” out, you become jaded to the truly spectacular days…or you’re just missing out entirely as you whittle away your tolerance for “shitty” days, and end up just riding when you think the porridge is “just right”.

Half the fun of mountain biking is being out in the elements. The mountains are moody and won’t always deal you a straight flush on your daily or weekly ride. Being stoked to get out for a pedal just for the sake of the activity is key. What good are knobby rubber tires if they only ever get used when they are least-needed? Rain keeps me cool and riding on my toes, the heat helps me shed the pastries and keeps me going fast. There are benefits to the variable conditions and that’s what keeps riding interesting and exciting. I think I’d get really bored if I only ever rode when conditions were perfect.

With limited time to ride these days, I’m glad I’ve embraced the “ride regardless” mentality. It means any free day is potentially a day I can ride. Adhere to the Funsuck mantra, and you’ll rarely have an excuse to stay inside.

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