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The Guy Who Puts The Fun Back In Fun

I jogged in my bike shoes with the couple hundred other riders down the dirt road to the start of the 24 Hours In The Old Pueblo, wondering why I’d volunteered to ride the first lap for my team: I still have a cold. Jesus it’s hot. There are so many people. Wearing lycra. This isn’t my type of thing at all.

Then I saw my friend Chris on the sidelines, sweating in a gorilla suit, minus the head, wearing a Drunk Cyclist jersey.

“Come on,” he said, “we’re gonna do this Tour de France style.” I jumped on my bike and started pedaling, as he ran alongside, pushing with his hand on my back for about 200 feet, giving me an emotional catapult into the race and out of my hesitation. It was his reminder to me: This is not a race. This is supposed to be FUN.

Chris is the driving force behind DrunkCyclist.com, a website that’s not so much about being drunk as it is about not taking things so seriously, which is something we’ve managed to do with a lot of things we do after work for “fun” nowadays. Among all the heart rate monitors, five-paycheck lighter faster better bicycles, maniacal Strava obsessions, and recreational racers using non-recreational dope to get ahead, there is Chris and the guys from DrunkCyclist, who will throw two beers in a backpack for a half-day singletrack ride.

Because we work 40 hours (or 55) a week. The other part of the week should be playing.

We have tons of media offering to help us do things better, faster, harder, achieve our goals, give us a list of 570 tips on how to get stronger, focus our training, cover more terrain, extract the maximum possible amount of something out of whatever it is we used to do for fun. And nobody’s writing about going out wandering around on our day off, or accidentally crashing, or daydreaming about the next trip that might not be The Best Ever, but might be pretty goddamn fun if we relax a little bit.

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Amidst all the news in my feeds about people crushing climbs around the world, winning races, and pushing physical limits, I find myself clicking on Chris’s photos more: he rappelled into a slot canyon with his bike strapped to his back and rode it out. He took a few days off work to try to fatbike along the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Arizona. He’s in Nepal, exploring trails on his bike, solo. Bikes and beers on Saturday. Bikes and burritos on Monday. Bike ride again on Tuesday. Man, is this guy employed? Yes, he’s a chemist.

“I think what makes Chris Chris is that he never has an excuse,” his friend Andy says. “People ask how he makes time to do all the rad stuff he does, but in reality, everyone has that time. They just don’t have the drive to get out there. They don’t have that first kick to get out the door. That’s what Chris has, and it speaks volumes for the authenticity of his interest and enjoyment of mountain biking.”

Chris does not have fun. He is fun. If he had a spirit animal, it would be a bear riding a perpetual wheelie on a fatbike, high-fiving everyone he rode by. In his words, “I am just a normal guy but I just happen to like being outside by myself a lot. I want to tell my stories and have them get people stoked to go outside.” And he does.

I formally interviewed Chris one time, and I asked him the question, “What’s one event every cyclist should do once in their life?” I usually expect bicycle enthusiasts to answer, “RAGBRAI,” or “Ride Trail X,” or “Do Race X.” You know, grown-up goals that grown-up bicyclists have on their lists. Of course, Chris said:

“Ride their bike off of a ramp into a large body of water.”

-Brendan

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17 Comments

  1. Mike
    February 20, 2014

    Awesome my two favorite blogs are meeting up! Too good to be true.

    Reply
    • dave
      February 20, 2014

      My thoughts exactly.

      Reply
  2. Dan
    February 20, 2014

    Brilliant!

    Reply
  3. april dawne
    February 20, 2014

    FUCK YES. This is awesome. On so many levels. I live my life very similarly; guess that’s why I adore that Bearded Biking Silverfox.

    Reply
  4. Nick
    February 20, 2014

    Thanks Brendan. I needed the psych today. Badly.

    Reply
  5. Susan
    February 20, 2014

    And now I have enough motivation to go shovel snow!

    Reply
    • Ryan
      February 22, 2014

      Crush it.

      Reply
  6. AaronF
    February 20, 2014

    Hell yes! I sometimes wonder if my friends are getting old, or if I’m just crazy. Your story summed it up perfectly; some people dream of getting out there & having fun, and some people actually do it. Get off your arse and live!!

    Reply
  7. Alan
    February 20, 2014

    PSYCHE! RAD! MOTIVATE! FUCK! GREAT! COMMENTS! ME TOO! THANKS!

    Reply
  8. Jordan
    February 20, 2014

    Last year I did the 24 in the old Pueblo… I drank lots of beer and finished the race with a cigarette in my mouth… I now need to take this approach with climbing, perhaps minus a few beers.

    Reply
  9. Ryan
    February 22, 2014

    Great story. More like this, please.

    Reply
  10. will
    February 23, 2014

    You and Chris should check out the coaster brake challenge

    Reply
  11. February 24, 2014

    Yes, yes, and yes. I have two jobs, a pre-adoptive foster kid, a wife, a house, and all kinds of other things I need and love to do. I ride to work twice a week. I ride with friends at 7 a.m. on weekday mornings. And I get out and ride for a few hours without knowing where I’m going to end up at least once a week.

    Fun doesn’t come to you, you make it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s worth it either way.

    Reply
  12. March 11, 2014

    Ok, I know I’m late to the party, but thanks for this. I’m sitting here watching code compile and wondering if we should spend our evenings this week de-winterizing our camper so we can take our 3 year old out camping on a cold and chilly spring weekend this weekend. Clearly, this story is the universe’s way of saying “Yes. Yes you should.”

    Reply
  13. March 26, 2014

    A friend of mine just got a new bike. It has wider, knobby tires, so of course there is a category for this type of bike. It is “monster cross”. And riding on dirt roads is now called “gravel grinding”. I asked my friend about his tires and he said, “they are the best gravel racing tires out there”. Give me a fucking break.

    Reply

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