Eaten Up By Grenada

19
Aug
2013

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I’ve been riding a road bike for about ten years now, but it wasn’t until moving to Grenada that I’ve totally felt eaten up by the road and related conditions.

Yeah, I’ve cycled in many different parts of the world and experienced a few issues along the way.  But here in Grenada, my bike, my riding, and myself have all been chewed up and spit out….but I continue to ride.

My Bike

Think about the most bumpy, torn up road that you’ve ever taken your road bike on.  You know how every time your tires rolled over a rough section, you thought your bike was going to crack?  Well, that is one of the better roads over here in Grenada.  Caribbean roads are definitely not known for their smoothness, and even the best road over here is in worse condition than the nastiest roads I’ve ever ridden.

One of the most mashed up roads just happens to be in True Blue, and leads to our café.  I bike to work almost every day, and when I take my road bike it takes years off its life each time.  There really is no avoiding the rough patches and I swear my bike is just going to bust in half one of these times.

Luckily, my business partner is the best bike mechanic on the island so he’s been able to keep my bike rolling after it gets eaten up.  I’ve already replaced my back rim and did an overhaul on my headset bearings.

potholes1

My Riding

I’ve blogged a few times about the riding conditions here in Grenada.  I can publicly go on record as saying this is the most dangerous place I have ever ridden.  I’ve also said that drivers here are the worst I’ve experienced in the world.  It’s not totally their fault.  They just aren’t accustomed to road cyclists, their speed, and how to drive around them.

Because of this, I’ve become totally invisible out there.  Someone will be about to turn onto the road I’m on, will look right at me, and then cut out in front anyway.  Or they will speed past me just to hit the brakes and make me have to swerve around them at the last second.

It really is insane.  If you’ve seen the bicycle messenger movie, Premium Rush, imagine it to be something like how it is to ride here in Grenada.  You never know when you’ll need to instantly create escape route alternatives and pick the right one.

Some days are so frustrating that I just don’t feel like going through it again….and that’s saying a lot.  I’ve never in my life had something make me want to stop riding my road bike….okay, well other than cold weather.  Whenever I get to this point, I’ll take a day or two off from the battle on the road and hit the trails on my mountain bike.

There’s definitely been days where I feel eaten up by the riding conditions of Grenada, but I continue fighting my way out of this Country’s stomach and ride my bike.

Myself

If you’ve been following my site, you’ll already know that lately my mind has not been functioning properly.  I’m the Enthusiastically Depressed Cyclist who has called himself A Fake, and it’s all partly because of my life here in Grenada.

Living in the Caribbean may seem like the ultimate paradise, but the reality is it takes someone with an insanely thick skin to survive here.  I’m being completely honest about this.

Seeing as I spent three years living in the Caribbean in the past, I knew what I was in for when we made the move to Grenada.  However, this time around I am older, I’ve got two more kids, and am running my own business.  Additional stresses like this are multiplied under Caribbean living conditions.  All the backwards hoops that have to be jumped through, cultural differences, and third world living are enough to eat up even those with a thickest of skins.

Grenada has taken a few bites, but I’m not about to let anyone chew me up.

So there you have it.  I’ve literally and figuratively been eaten up by Grenada.  My bike, my rides, and me.  But, what happens when you have a Make it Happen attitude?  You keep fighting, you keep moving forward, and you enjoy your ride.

Enjoy Your Ride

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  • Eric Hutchins

    Took me so long to get to this one because I wanted to have the time to say something that mattered. Not sure if this will but. Like a lot of other people here have already said (long ago) YOU inspire me Darryl. You help me to keep my priorities straight. YOU help people with your writing and that is cool.
    This post reminded me so much of my home of roughly 40 years ( St Croix USVI) while I suspect it is not QUITE as bad as Grenada I imagine it is pretty close. Hostile drivers, terrible roads with no shoulders, people that think that getting to the convenience store 2 minutes faster is somehow worth someones life. ARRRRRRRRG. Frankly its one of the things that makes me certain I will never go back there to live again.
    That sad irony about the islands in general is that we see them for what they COULD BE we see their POTENTIAL and that often distorts the view of what they really are. People have this vision of idyllic life in a hammock with a beer in hand and reggae music in the distance mingled with the sounds of the surf.
    Reality though it is the sounds of car horns and complaining and people telling you “no” for things you know they could do for you if they actually wanted to.
    ugh I am a little cynical, I am sorry. My father beat his head against the wall in St Croix for nearly his entire life and I did for a large chunk of mine, hoping that we could WILL it into something it would never be. and he is gone…

    and
    I know that when everything lines up just right and the situation is perfect, there simply is no better place in the world than the Caribbean. Hopefully you guys can get it to “line up” for you enough times to make this a wonderful phase of your life.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Yes, you’re one of the few who has an idea of what real life is like in the Caribbean. This is one of the reasons you and I should have a long talk one of these days. Not only because you are a caring friend, but because you “get it”.
      The trick here is focusing on the good things and on what brought us here. It’s easy to lose sight of that and to get caught up with all the frustrations….that’s where I’ve been the past couple months.
      If I somehow manage to help you keep your priorities in check, that is awesome…..and a huge boost to my ego. I may not be the poster child for how to live a successful life…..but if I can help people live a life staying true to what they believe in and what their core value are, then I am successful.
      Thanks, my friend.

      • Eric Hutchins

        You are welcome, and Thank you (Again) and we will (talk)

  • Kids Caribbean

    Sounds like the road, living and culture of Dominica. Except I think we have slightly steeper hills and worse roads…. and I’d vouch for crazier drivers too! Don’t get me wrong, I adore the Nature Isle but just giving you another point of reference to make you happier about life in Grenada!!

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks for checking out this post and commenting. Yeah, I’ve been to Dominica and one of the reasons we didn’t consider it as a place to move was because of the inability to go road biking there.
      Your comment has helped me realize that even if it’s not ideal, I am still able to ride my road bike here in Grenada.

  • Brian Amer

    Hi Darryl,
    A few thoughts for you. I’ve been biking in Bangkok for the last 2 years, with the last 1 as a bicycle commuter, but I’ve never been to Grenada, so take this for what it’s worth.
    First, I agree with those who have suggested leaving the fancy road bike at home. With your road conditions, you should be on a MTB, and probably a cheap one that you wouldn’t mind trashing. This seems to be no place for a nice road bike. What do the poor people ride there? I’m guessing they get by just fine on bikes that probably cost much less than $100. You’d be fine on a standard Trek or Marin MTB, and that would be one less worry for you.
    Second, are there a lot of guys on motorbikes there? If it’s like nearly every equatorial place I’ve been to (and I’ve been to several), I’m guessing there are. Watch them, and apply what they do to how you ride. You should be a slower, much smarter & more careful version of a motorbike. They may look crazy, and many probably are, but the sane ones can help you figure out what the real rules of the road are for non-cars. Get a horn if you need one (I got the loudest bell I could find, which doesn’t help w/ cars or busses, but helps w/ motorbikes, peds, and tuk-tuks).
    And lastly, when drivers do stupid things, you just need to let it go & not think too much about it, because I’m sure the drivers never think about it. It’s not worth letting it get to you too much.
    Hope this helps!

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Good advice, Brian. A few months ago I spent much more time on my mountain bike than the road bike, but it didn’t seem to change my mood at all. I also rode my commuter bike for a while and it was about the same. But I’ll try it again and see how it goes.

      There aren’t a ton of motorbikes here, mostly just a few students on scooters.

      It’s hard for me not to get angry when a driver does something dumb…it’s also harder to be relaxed on the bike here as compared to other places I’ve rode. I’m sure craving one of those back country roads that are beautiful and have limited traffic.

  • http://aerochick.com/ Ashley

    The roads around here are thankfully pot-hole free for the most part, but I still won’t be riding my road bike in case I need to hop off the road for whatever reason during the week. Also…open gutters. I agree with a few folks that you should put away the road bike for the daily commute as it’s only going to hurt it more, and that’s money spent on repairs.

    I would suggest, instead, getting a CX bike. It’s not as slow/heavy as a MTB, still with the rigid frame and drop bars, but with an amount of cushion and indestructability. You can run wider road tires which still have that road feeling, but it can have disc brakes for wet weather stopping power and plenty of room for racks and fenders.

    Not sure if you saw my build, but I did a CX bike for around $800: http://aerochick.com/2012/12/custom-cyclocross-bike-build/

    I’m sure with some connections you could build a similar bike for cheaper.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Hi Ashley, great advice. I’ve actually been wanting to get a cross bike and working on it. I’ve talked to a few companies and looking to swing a deal with them. We’ve also been wanting to start building bikes here at Mocha Spoke so that’s an option as well.

      The cross bike or mountain bike will help with the bumps and potholes, but the drivers are just as bad no matter what bike I’m on.

      I’m looking forward to reading about your rides in Malaysia.

  • Must Ride Bikes

    Stick with it Darryl, and please know that your writing is influencing people around the world. Oh, and try commuting on the mountain bike, save the roadie for weekends, that’s what saved my sanity in NC!

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      I really appreciate you saying that. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I’m influencing lives around the world….I need to start believing it. Hearing this from you helps….thanks.

  • http://www.texasmountainbiketrails.com/ Shawn McAfee

    Stick it dude!

    The only person or thing that can defeat you, is you.

    Much love man and stay safe out there.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Awesome advice, my friend. Yes, I totally agree. The only one who can defeat us is ourselves. You Rock.

  • http://www.reasons2ride.com/ Joel Phillips

    So, I am going to go way out on a limb here bro…first let me say how connected I have felt to you these past few weeks with your sharing; someday I hope you realize the power of what you have been doing and how it’s changing peoples lives. Second, I want you to consider letting go with the attachment to your roadbike. It occurs to me that it might actually be triggering your depression. Stay with me here, I know I’ve said a couple of radical things, but could you be hanging on too tight?

    In the filer & piler blog, I got that you like order in certain areas of your life, and the life you are living right now is making that difficult. Even the one place where you always feel like you have order and control, on your road bike, you are finding (and maybe fighting) that you don’t. In Austin, you at least were able to ride like you wanted. Let that need for speed be fueled with a heart-pumping all-terrain romp from point A to point B. I like Scott’s idea, bring on some suspension to ease the tension. Give yourself more freely to your environment and you’ll find that big ring groove in no time. Don’t think of it as something that’s holding you back, but rather an insanely awesome opportunity to learn to love the bike in a new way.

    Am I saying you say adios to the road bike (I just punched myself for typing that) absolutely NOT! I am suggesting that you might consider letting go riding it like you like, except for those epic trips your amazing wife alluded to, and embrace your surroundings. Just know, that I am your biggest fan, and I really want to echo what @carlabirnberg:disqus said;
    “in everything,
    in all things,
    YOU INSPIRE ME”.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      As always, I’m immensely impressed by you. Not only do you just leave a comment, but you dive right in with an incredible amount of thought and perspective. You’re my virtual psychologist and much more.
      I totally see where you’re going with what you wrote and I definitely agree that my frustrations on the road and my road cycling are a part of my depression and anger. The only problem is there is only one way for me to get where I’m going to on a bike. There are no alternative trails to take on a mountain bike. Well, not many. Even on the mountain bike I’m faced with the same roads and same issues….but the potholes and bumps are much easier on a mountain bike. However, the issues I have with the drivers are still there on the mtb.
      I wish there were trails I could take to get around so that I could avoid the roads. That would be awesome.
      Anyway, I’ll give what you wrote more thought and see how I can put it into play in my day to day life.
      Oh, and I hope I wake up and realize how I’ve changed lives one day as well. At this point, I don’t believe it….but hearing this from you sure does feel good.
      You’re one of a kind, Mr. Phillips.

  • AmandaGaleKotyk

    I’m glad you want to keep fighting and moving forward. I hope it gets easier for you. I also think a cycling trip to Austin might help a little. :)

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Yeah, I’d love to get away for a cycling trip. We need to make my cross country US trip happen next summer. I want to ride across the US and have you guys right there behind in an RV. I Love You.

  • Daniel Christianson

    What kind of bike are you riding?
    Seems to me something with a bit of suspension may be in order there, just saying… ;)

    • Scott White

      I agree, some fat tires and suspension – well that and slowing down a bit too… With all that stress, maybe a little slower pace on the road might help.

      • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

        What? You want me to slow down, Scott? Hahahaha. Yeah, I’m sure going slower might help a bit but I am too much of a speed demon to do that. Going off road on the trails is about the only way to really escape the madness on the roads here.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks Daniel. I’m mostly on my road bike, but also take my mountain bike once or twice each week. I’ve had just as many frustrations out there going slower on my mountain bike so the only real escape is going off road. The front suspension of my mountain bike definitely makes going over the bumps a lot easier.

      • http://www.texasmountainbiketrails.com/ Shawn McAfee

        Off road is always twice as nice.

  • carla birnberg

    in everything.
    in all things.
    YOU INSPIRE ME.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Wow. Thanks @carlabirnberg:disqus…..that just might be the nicest complement I’ve ever received. Seeing as I look up to you as a great person and blogger, this feels really really good. Thanks for making my day better.

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