Stranger, if you like to ride your bike…

I have no illusions… If you’re reading this—my first-ever blog entry—it’s probably because you’re a friend of mine. You know I ride a good amount (whatever a good amount amounts to). And for friendship’s sake, you’ll follow me down this particular rabbit hole for a polite look around. Welcome, friend!

Or maybe you’re somebody I’ve ridden with. If so, a lot of this should look and smell and taste and feel like the shared territory it is. Again: Welcome, friend!

But let’s say we’ve never met. Let’s say you pedaled clear out here on your own—because you’re a gravel grinder, a weekend cross racer, an everyday (if not every day) bike commuter. Or you’re somebody interested in becoming any of these things.

I don’t know you. When you look inside yourself, I don’t know whether you see the beating heart of Tony Martin, Tony Danza or Toni Morrison. But, stranger, if you like to ride your bike—if you find yourself on the highway wanting to turn right—if you like that oddly wet sound of your tires splashing into dry gravel, then you and I know each other pretty well. (Welcome, friend!)

Pick your Tony (or Toni).

I’m giving Dirt Tan Bike Club a go because the connection between us gravel riders matters to me. You’re here because you’re part of it.

Gravel riding’s popularity is both undeniable and invisible. Everybody’s doing this gravel stuff precisely because nobody’s out here. Here we are, together some 40 miles in, and there’s our first pickup truck of the morning. He slows, eases over, and gives us the friendly (index) finger.

There’s some wind cutting across our shoulders. The tan ditches whip and wave. But you’re not complaining. You’re riding. You’re cutting some nice lines over gorgeous rollers.

You’ve stuck it out this far—grinding your way through this, my first-ever blog entry—because seeing things to the end feels good. Riding (at once alone and as part of this bigger, competitive, supportive thing) just feels like a golden little accomplishment. Because it is.

So I say to you—stranger/conspirator/finisher—I say: Welcome, friend!

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