I remember when I interviewed for my first industry job, my interviewer made a big deal about how "fresh" I was. I hadn't even gotten a road bike at that point, and I was all excitement and stoke about cycling, building a stronger women's community, all of it. "We need your energy around here," he said, "We've all been around it too long -- it's hard to make yourself care." I guess when it's your job to share other peoples' excitement about their new bikes, or their newest goal set and reached, it's hard to try to muster up your own at the end of the day. Another guy, a mechanic, said to me once, "Want to start hating bikes? Work in the industry."
A few years later, I certainly haven't reached that point of indifference, but I can understand what these veteran industry-bros meant. If you're not careful, riding itself can start to feel like a job. Especially for the girls here at Machines HQ, riding is a huge part of our job, not only the riding but attending events, and keeping in shape to attend group rides on the weekends. I've heard this lament from some racers as well, who get so tuned in to the needs of their training schedule, they don't leave any time for the fun of riding.
The few times I've caught myself thinking this way, I ask myself, "Why am I in this industry in the first place?"
It's because I found an incredible joy in something, in the wild freedom it permits. For me, I needed a reminder to make time for that joy, for that delirious, happy singing that sometimes accompanies a swooping descent.
A few weeks ago, Jenn asked, "Are you busy next week? We're going to Idyllwild."
"In." I said it without a thought. I didn't even know where Idyllwild was. And that was it. We made the time, booked the cabin, and went into the mountains. Sure, a weekend getaway on such short notice requires a bit of finagling. There were extra shifts to be covered, dogs to be walked, we flew in our friend Jaci from SF. But overall I was suprised by how easy it all was. All of a sudden Friday arrived, and we packed four girls and four bikes into Jenn's truck and headed out. By the time we stopped for snacks we were out LA traffic and we could feel a change already.
We really headed out to Idyllwild to shoot our new Fall line, so we did have some work to do. But this kind of work just doesn't feel the same; women working together to create something organic, something that inspires us, it's stretching our creative muscles and our legs at the same time. I also could feel that we all needed a break, and in the back of our minds we were headed out to the mountains to get away from the stress and the pressure of the city. I think each of us needed a little time away.
It was one of those weekends where everything just clicked. We explored, without a real plan, and when we saw something cool, we stopped. Jaci brought all the laughs, and is easily the strongest of any of us. Jenn impressed everyone with multiple gourmet meals from just a few ingredients we'd picked up on the way and contributed some top notch off-road truck maneuvering. Tracy can pick out the perfect locations to shoot that no one else notices. And me? I just took it all in, ate all the snacks, and climbed more than I had since I'd been couched by an injury a few months before.
In the end, it was the joy I remember. A part of riding I'm sure you all know, but which can sometimes get lost in the responsibilities of training.
On our last morning we wanted to squeeze in one last shoot, so we planned to leave super early. I think we were all exhausted because almost no one woke up on time and when we rushed out to throw the bikes in the back of the truck we were sure we'd miss the sunrise. But we headed out, and when we pulled up to a lake - one we had spotted through the car window on our way up - it was dark and chilly. We started exploring, Tracy with her camera in hand, and just a few minutes later the sun peeked above the trees at the far side of the lake directly across from the spot we'd chosen. The shot was perfect, the sun warmed our legs, and it just happened that way. It was something we couldn't have planned.
As we began the drive back, we were all a bit quiet. Tired from the busy weekend, but content and serene. After a while Tracy said, "Oh, is this music OK? I didn't even check with you guys..." We all nodded in agreement. It was great. We'd been quietly grooving the whole way down the mountain.
"Yeah," Jaci nods from the backseat, "Soulful." We all fell quiet again.
It seemed like the perfect way to some up the weekend. We made the time to find the joy, to get a little soulful. Then, as always, we were back to the real world before noon.