Keep the Rubber Side Down

My Twitter friend…turned good close friend, @PedalmanTO, supplies a guest post today that will change the way you look at your life.

More often than not, I’ll sign off an email or phone conversation with a friend by saying “Keep the Rubber Side Down.” I can’t nail down a date when it became the phrase that my friends associated with me but I can remember how the phrase took hold, and it’s meaning changed over time.

A few years ago when cycling became a more prominent fixture in my life, I was asked to take a few colleagues out for a ride. Many were new to cycling and as we were reviewing the rules of the road and a few safety tips I got asked, ‘What’s the most important thing to remember?’ Without thinking I responded with ‘Keep the Rubber Side Down’. We all started to laugh and after that it turned into the joke at work when moments got tense.

Like most lifers in the world of cycling, I take every opportunity to jump on the bike. I use it for fitness, pleasure, and (depending on the work season) a release to clear my head. I find that after a good ride I have a clean slate and can think through challenges that were brought by the day. Riding grounds me and initiates the reset switch.

I’ve had some pretty difficult personal challenges. I’ve lost some great people in my life and was personally faced with the same demon that took them away. Questions started to flood my mind – all those annoying ‘what-if’s’ in life – and  they began controlling my thoughts all the time. It was after midnight on a Friday and I was getting ready for bed. I was thinking of the email I had just sent a friend moments before explaining what had been happening. I broke down in front of the mirror.

My roommate’s dog came in and started whining because she could see I was upset. I bent down, scratched behind her ear and whispered “everything will be alright”. When I sent her back to her room, I told her to have good dreams, protect her mommy, and Keep the Rubber Side Down. She trotted away and I stood there in my bathroom as it dawned on me.   This whole time I hadn’t been Keeping the Rubber Side Down. I had been riding everyday but I hadn’t grounded myself. I was letting my thoughts and actions go in every direction and blow me off course. Keeping the Rubber Side Down meant more than just going for a ride and staying upright.

Whether you ride or not, every time life throws you a curveball or tries to knock you down, take a moment and hit that reset switch. Do that simple act which helps ground you and puts things in perspective.

Keep the Rubber Side Down, my friends.

Ian, aka – Pedalman, is from Toronto, Ontario.  He is an all weather cyclist and lives a life where helping others comes before anything else.  And, of course, he always Keeps the Rubber Side Down.

  • bikerly

    Like the others, I enjoyed your post Ian! Thanks for your #bikeschool pledge last night. You’re a good man, Pedalman.

    • Pedalman

      Thanks my friend. I’m only as good as the friends I keep and that includes my #bikeschool posse.

  • Amanda

    Wow, I really love this post!! Great motto, and very inspirational whether you’re a cyclist or not.
    Thanks for the reminder, and thanks for sharing this with us!

    • Pedalman

      Happy to hear you enjoyed it. Thanks for the nice words.

  • egggman

    Great post!! Glad to know you by first name now. Looking forward to meeting up for a ride!

    Take Care


    • Pedalman

      Thanks brother. I look forward to cranking the chain alongside of you soon.

  • Heather Nielson

    Wow! I really enjoyed this post…thanks for sharing!

    • Pedalman

      Thanks Heather, glad you enjoyed it.

  • adena

    tattoo?? Fantastic post Ian, words to live by.

    • Pedalman

      Thanks Adena.

  • Donsld

    So happy to know you’ve shared this now with LovingTheBike readers. I’ve had the great fortune of getting to know you over the last 3 years and it’s wild how much you and my family and I have shared. We know so much about each other yet we’ve never met in person. But I know when we are all finally able to share a face to face hello and a big hug it’ll be like long lost friends getting back together. It’s amazing how cycling has brought us together and how “Keeping The Rubber Side Down” has established the foundation of a lifelong friendship, sharing and support! Thank you again for sharing my friend. Hope we see each other sooner than later. Be Well! Donald

    • Pedalman

      You and the family have been a pillar of strength for me and our friendship means more than anything.
      I truly believe that I wouldn’t have shared this with others if it had not been for your encouraging words and actions when I was at my lowest points.
      Thank you my friend.

  • Pamela

    Awesome. I hope you are able to do that, and I plan to remember your words. There are many times I have simply failed to remind myself that sometimes, just keeping the rubber side down is all we need to do.

    • Pedalman

      Good to hear Pamela, thanks for stopping by and reading.

  • Bryan

    Great story and advice. Thanks Ian.

    • Pedalman

      Your welcome Bryan, thanks for the kudos.

  • slowafrican

    keep the rubber side down brother. i like that.

    • Pedalman

      Use it as often as you like. Thanks for reading.

  • Loving the Bike

    Awesome post, Ian. Thanks for sharing your personal story with us and for getting my day started in the right direction. I’m fired up and ready to Keep the Rubber Side Down.


    • Pedalman

      Thanks for making it happen my friend.