Remember when you were five, the sensation of rolling on your two-wheel bike, all by yourself for the first time. The momentum, the wind, the joy, and the relief when you realized you could steer and brake and not crash. You did it...you figured it out. Disbelief gave way to confidence as you rode and rode, pedaling in circles and figure 8’s until dinner could not wait any longer. Exhausted and elated, you walked inside the house, taller, older. You knew your range had just increased beyond the driveway, and all the rules and limitations and boundaries that had contained you had to be renegotiated.
|T-Bone, G, Timster|
You got a little older and could ride a few houses away, just beyond your mom’s view from the front window. Gradually you rode a block away, then two. You found new hills, jumps, paths, and puddles. You figured out how to get up off the seat and pedal fast and hard for acceleration. There was so much to learn: skids. wheelies, speed, air, landing, not crashing. Crashing, but getting back up. Wiping the tears, straightening the handlebars, riding again. You’d set your bike against a tree and explore a new creek or fort somebody had built. Faster, farther, you and your bike demanded that the world keep expanding for you.
Every time you ventured away, you would inevitably turn around and head back for home, the place where you knew you belonged. The return trip seemed so much shorter than the ride out. You knew what to expect on the way back, and before long things familiar came back into view: your neighborhood, your block, your street, your driveway, home. Going far away, coming home again, this is the blessing of riding.
Fast forward to present day. Your schedule is filled with three hundred things that keep you from hopping on your bike as often as you did back then. The time you might use to ride is very limited; even leisure time is crowded now, and you may feel too worn out to want to do something physical. Besides, your car takes you to all of your destinations, complete with cupholders, stereo, temperature control, comforts. At some point, however, you begin to realize that there was an inherent joy in riding a bicycle, and you miss it. The undeniable joy of wind, momentum, and self-propulsion brings back a feeling like none other.
Moreover, riding a bike lets you notice more things. The contours of your own neighborhood become more real when you ride them instead of driving them. When you’re not encased in glass and steel, you’re interacting with nature rather than merely observing it. Your pedals give chase to destinations farther away from home. You take in views of your surroundings that you’d never really noticed before. Not like you’re doing now, anyway. These rides reacquaint you with your corner of the world, sensory experiences that expand your love for its wildlife, its geography, and all the peculiarities that make it special. You are grateful to have this new kinship with the area you call home.
Your body and your bike make agreements how to work together. You like conquering the challenge of a headwind, hills, rain, big mileage. You wonder what it would be like to leave the car at home and ride to work sometimes. Maybe you could do a century, or a tour, or an organized ride. Maybe you still have some racing you want to do, or you want to go experience a forest from the handlebars. You begin to wonder about more ambitious rides that take you far from home...a ride of epic proportion. Maybe you go a little crazy and you ride from Seattle to Portland with 10,000 other kids who never fully grew up. Maybe you create your own solo tour from Phoenix to Denver. How about Cycle Oregon or another big ride? Why not ride across America after you retire?
Why not? After all, you can ride your two-wheeler, all by yourself.