Have you ever had a thought and then immediately realize that just by having had it, your life would soon be changed?
October of 2017 started ominously enough. On the first Monday morning, the world woke and learned that rock legend Tom Petty had passed away in his sleep after suffering a cardiac arrest. The news hit me as hard as if I had known him (or so I naively thought at the time). His music had been the background track to so much of my life. Just months before, I had treated my wife and I to his concert in St Louis. In an eerily prescient rationalization I had told my wife the admittedly high ticket price was worth it because, “who knows if we’ll ever get a chance to see and hear him play in person again.”
But life has a way of moving on and leaving you to process what’s happened in those scant moments between other moments. And last October was no different. Within a couple days, I was on my way to the Brown County Epic mountain biking festival in Nashville, IL. If you ever get a chance to go, do it. The Hoosier Mountain Bike Association (HMBA.org) puts on a fantastic event. The days before the event were filled to the brim with work, packing, and tuning “My Precious” – my name for the 2012 Niner hardtail I had built. It had spent most of the last couple years hanging neglected and dusty on my shop wall and needed a bit of TLC.
Before I knew it, the event was almost finished and Saturday evening had arrived. I was physically spent from participating in a skills clinic and following it with my longest riding day of the season. The day had started off hot and sunny but by early evening October’s storm clouds had caught up to us and soaked the park. Along with everyone else, I took refuge from the deluge in the main event tent. Soon I found myself sipping the second of my complimentary IPA’s as my mind wandered and the week’s moments began to catch up. The event band launched into the most inspired Tom Petty covers I had ever heard. The crowd and I sang along.
Well some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I’ve started out for God knows where
I guess I’ll know when I get there
I’m learning to fly, around the clouds
But what goes up must come down
I swayed lazily to imitation Tom Petty’s voice and wondered, “Were all of the other IMBA EPIC trails and Ride Centers as fun as the one’s I’d ridden just hours before?”
I decided that I should go out and see what others there were…and to make a point of riding them. I thought about the Monarch Crest and the Laugavegur Route in Iceland and wondered if I had what it took.
“I just need to tune my own self up and I can ride some of those trails. Yeah, that’s probably all I need to do..”
I thought of the photo on my vision board at home.
How cool would that be? Travel to Iceland to bike that surreal misty green terrain.
One thought gave way to another.
“Damn, it was a shame about Tom. Such a talent.” The next song began.
Well, I know what’s right.
I got just one life.
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around.
But I’ll stand my ground.
And I won’t back down.
A split second later I remembered my upcoming 50th and my mind conveniently summed all the juxtaposing yet complimentary ideas into one answer. An answer to the question I hadn’t wanted to ask, hadn’t wanted to consider. Anxiously and instantly the thought emerged, “I don’t have enough time to ride them all. There’s no time left to waste.”
Momentary panic set in. But it faded once I admitted to myself that I was exhausted. I went to bed that night comforted by the notion that the evening rains would wash away both the dirt on my bike and the hopelessness on my mind. I was certain I’d awaken refreshed and energized.
And I was mostly right.
Look for It’s sort of Tom Petty’s fault – Part 2 COMING SOON