Dirt Rag Magazine

Readers Write: Let us be sick

Editor’s note: Readers Write is a collection of essays and fiction written by readers. Have something you’d like to submit? Send it editor@dirtragmag.com.

by Jim Murren

The Mountain Bikers Liberation Front (MTBLF) says to the bosses of the world, “there are days in this life that the trail calls us in such a way that we are not able to resist.” We do not say that out loud to them, but rather we say, “I am sick and will not be in to work today.”

It is not that we hate our jobs or that we are being defiant. NO. In fact, it may well be that we love our jobs, but in that instance, that coming together of emotion and mindfulness, that vision of turning pedals on singletrack, a beautiful six inch wide path that winds through trees, cactus, meadow or rocky above-the-tree-line terrain, we look inward and say to ourselves, “today, I need to do this for me, right now, because there is no guarantee of a tomorrow.”

We may not be able to express in words why it is that we need to take a sick day to internally align ourselves. It is not that we are misaligned junkies, or of an incapacity to balance work and life outside of work. Rather, it has more to do with a cloudless, blue-sky weather forecast and perfect trail conditions that are what we dream of, and that such conditions only come around every so often, sometimes being a Tuesday or a Friday, and that if we tap into the energy that exists within and outside of us on those days, we may well find a little slice of heaven on Earth while mountain biking. In short, we need to heed the call, for our own well-being.

Let it be understood, we are not asking that you understand who we are, or why it is that we need to ride at ten in the morning or two in the afternoon on a day when most people are at work. We ask that you not judge us. If we are given sick days to use, and if we say we have a stomach virus or a migraine, so be it. If we return to work the next day feeling refreshed and we have an extra pep in our step, do not ask how we appear to not be a recovering sick employee. You might say, instead, “I am glad you are feeling better today.”

The MTBLFers that are not entitled to sick days on the job are in a predicament. If it is possible to call in sick and not be paid for the day, and all the while not lose your job, then you might consider the pros and cons of making that decision. To perhaps make it easier, MTBLFers who need not tax their minds with such worries will assist in recouping your lost wages by inviting you to jump in the vehicle without contributing to gas money, they will buy you a beer at the post-ride watering hole, they will grab the bill on the burgers and fries you ordered. In doing so, your only responsibility is to return the favor if you are ever in a position to do so.

MTBLF does not desire to cause a disturbance in the greater society by publicizing the need to take a sick day when we feel the day is ideal to ride our bikes on dirt trails. All we ask is that you let us be sick.

Jim Murren is an MTBLF member. He can be reached at www.vagoscribe.com.

You can read the MTBLF Manifesto we published in 2008 here.

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