By Vernon Felton
Some folks hear their biological clock ticking, I’m not one of them; this makes me a bit of a black sheep in my family. In 1976, a couple hundred of us Feltons showed up to our family reunion back home in New Orleans—I’m just talking about first cousins here and that was more than 30 years ago. We’ve multiplied some since then. We Feltons are what folks used to call “good Catholics” and what people today call a “leading cause of overpopulation”. Still, I never personally felt an overriding compulsion to produce offspring.
I’d been with my wife for nearly a decade before she noted that, you know, we should probably consider a rough target date for having kids. In our third decade now, we weren’t spring chickens anymore. She was right. We put a yellow Post It note on the fridge with a date a couple years into the future printed upon it—a date by which we should start our own family. That date came and I found myself erasing it and writing in a new one. Then that date came and I crossed it out and scribbled in a date far, far into the future. Then that date came and, well, you get the idea. If I have a biological clock, the thing is broken. At least when it comes to making babies.
My mountain biking biological clock, on the other hand, works overtime and then some.
THE OTHER BIOLOGICAL CLOCK
Every June, without fail, my version of a biological clock starts screaming. I’ll wake up one morning and every fiber of my being that has anything to do with industriousness has suddenly gone on strike. I am suddenly overwhelmed, one might say “pregnant”, with an overriding desire to bail on anything that doesn’t involve me pedaling a bike.
Deadlines, bills, the battle with the forces of evil in my yard (otherwise known as “the lawn”)… a big part of me just stands up and gives the bird to all of it. I. Just. Want. To. Ride.
When I was younger, this was so easily accomplished that I didn’t quite grasp the situation for what it was. I’d put in a day’s work and then I’d escape. Simple as that. The weather is fine, so you ride. No need to overthink the compulsion to get out there and get some.
But that all changed when I woke up and found my house filled with a short, diaper-clad versions of me. It suddenly got much harder to fulfill my needs. Kids had to be driven to swim class. Kids had to be told not to play with daddy’s chainsaw. Kids had to be fed and clothed and prevented from burning down the chicken coop. Once you squeeze in a full work day on top of the kid herding, it becomes hard to get out there and satisfy the itch, which only makes the itch much, much worse.
Last week, I found myself at the park with my offspring during a postcard-perfect day when another parent turned to me and said, “What a beautiful day to be out with the kids! Am I right or what?” And I nodded in agreement when all I was really thinking is “Are you f*cking crazy? I could be out there riding right now. There’s hero dirt all over the damned trails and it’s calling my name.”
My inner me is a selfish prick, I know that and I’m tore up about it. My kids will only be this age once and I need to appreciate this brief warm-glowing period while it’s on my doorstep, but dammit, I know that June will meander into July and then stumble into August and then fall headlong into September and within a week or two, my corner of the globe will be covered in ice and snow and muck. While I can, and will, ride in that stuff for the next eight months, what I’d really like is to ride my damn bike. Right. Now.
TICK. TICK. TICK. TICK. TICK.
My biological clock won’t give it a break and it just gets louder each year. I think that’s because the damned thing knows that there are fewer and fewer precious summers in my future. When you’re a kid, the summers are endless and you look off into the horizon and see nothing but an endless stream of bright, sunny days rolling your way. But you get older and one day you realize that just isn’t true. The clock you never even heard before suddenly makes itself known.
You’ve got now.
Now. Now is the time to ride. You’re young and relatively free of responsibilities? Get out there and ride. You’re older and saddled with shit-to-do? Take care of it, sure, but then take the time to ride. You’ll never lay down on your deathbed glad that you paid your quarterly taxes on time. You, will, however, undoubtedly find yourself wishing that you took every spare sunny day by the throat and rode the living hell out of it.
So, do it. It’s a sunny day. The hero dirt has your name written all over it. Heed your biological clock.