Hey, Dan Timmerman here. I came to write here because I have spent a good portion of my life riding bicycles. At the ripe age of 13 I was following my older brother around with a mountain bike. By my late teens I was racing off road pretty serious. That eventually progressed into full-time, clean-cut professional road racing. I had a job there for a few years, but that wasn't my scene. I eventually settled into my niche here with Richie and crew, racing in the mud and snow through the autumn months. If there is a place for me in cycling, this is it.
However, even though cycling has used a good portion of my life, it's only a portion. I started at such a young age that I almost had no choice in the matter. At 13, I had no idea who I was and by the time I figured that out I was knee deep in the whole thing. To be honest, the times of my life when I experienced the most personal growth were during periods where I got burnt out on the bike and cut loose into the rest of my life. There were two such periods in my life. One involved the bike in a different way. It was a way to see the country and live a fairly simple existence. The other didn't involve the bike at all, but bridged the gap into my 30s and gave me the sense that it was the "final shaping" of who I am today. Of course, I don't think there is any finality to it. It's a constant growth to the grave, but after this period I stopped flailing and established a broad theme that I don't see fading anytime soon.
What used to be, in my youth, disgust for the way things are today and rebellion against it, became a reason to study the real world and how we humans interact with it now, and in the past. Well, OK, the disgust is still there, but there is an outlet for it now. The real world, by my definition, is the balance that exists here on this planet that all other organisms live by. If you look at us today, we don't interact with that world much. You could say we are way out of line, but the further you look back at our history, the more interaction you see. Hence, a lot of my study looks back at where we came from, how we lived, the skills we used. I spend a great deal of time trying to learn those old ways of meeting our daily human needs with the real world around us. It started with what I call the gateway skill of making fire with friction and now it is a never ending list of primitive skills projects such as hide tanning, bowyering, flint knapping, etc. It's literally never ending. The list ventures into agrarian life too with wool fiber work and growing food and raising animals at our homestead here in the Finger Lakes region of New York. I do feel that the adoption of agriculture was a big separation from the real world in the history of humanity, but it does offer a "way out", if there is a solution. At the very least it represents something more sustainable than the current industrial world. Speaking of which, a few things on the list venture there. Making oilcloth is one that comes to mind. Let me take this moment to point out that primitive skills mean first, not worst. These skills are difficult and complicated. I have had many failures and learned a lot.
So when we bring in the ever present bike this ends up being a weird sort of dual existence. I'll spend a day working with wood by the fire, wearing buckskins or something and then go change into bright, synthetic spandex to go hop in the car to ride around on a modern, high tech bicycle. It's strange, but I do it for the thrill of the race, maybe a connection to a buried thread of primal instinct in our DNA from the days when we supposedly chased antelope across the African savannahs, and for the time with good friends/teammates through the fall, certainly a primal social instinct that we have carried with us through time. So, weird as it is, it's what I do now-a-days and the best I can do is appreciate the diversity and use one as a platform for the other. Guess that's what I have just done, huh.