A couple of weeks ago, I had just finished a nice long climb and had set my bike aside to scramble up on a little rock outcropping to enjoy the view. A few minutes later two hikers appear from the other direction. Obviously hot and tired but so happy to be there, we exchange greetings and pleasantries. Then right about the moment that I was thinking,”That must have been a long hard hike,” The woman looks at me and says,”You must really love that bike to want to bring it up here!” I’m not really sure what happened next, I suspect something like a long blank stare, perhaps I even had a look of disbelief, I’m pretty certain I didn’t say anything right away as I heard her voice echo again in my mind, “you must really love that bike…”
Had she led a completely boring life? How could she not understand why my bike was here? What if I do love my bike?
This is after all just a machine. In some ways a very simple machine, but then compared to the original bikes, today’s machines are quite complex. But just a machine anyway, and we probably shouldn’t have love for a machine right? Until the moment you push off and take that first pedal stroke. Just the push of fresh air against your face is enough to bring a smile. This machine, my bike has made me smile instantly so many times. There is magic in that movement and balance. Movement and balance that we all had to work hard to attain. Work that most of us did very early in our lives, and that we can all remember the difficulties of learning so well. But then once we had it down, the freedom to get around and the fun we had by bike was so wonderful. And now all it takes to bring us back to that time in our lives is the next few pedal strokes. Yeah, I love that about my bike, it can make me feel just like a kid simply by jumpin’ on and pedaling around. I wonder when the last time was that my friend there had felt like a kid.
By the time you take those next couple of pedal strokes the movement of the ground so close under your feet becomes a wonderful sensation. There aren’t that many things the human body can do that allow it to skim so closely and so effortlessly over the surface of mother earth. I have caught myself just coasting along, staring down at the ground passing silently under me. How can something so simple be so amazing? Then we add in some turns and start to pull a few G’s. Oh how wonderful a thing is gravity, when we have the right tools to play with it, more on that one later. But right about that moment I realized gravity had taken a hold of my lower jaw because I was just sitting up there looking at my peak partners with my mouth agape! That must mean I still hadn’t responded to her yet.
Normally when I am in places like the one we were sitting in on this beautiful day, part of the reason for being there is to get rid of certain thoughts, feelings and images. One of those very images popped into my head right then. The image of my friend there getting into her SUV to drive a mile and a half to the grocery store for a few items to make the lunch they were enjoying on this beautiful day. Basic clean free transportation. I love that about my bike. Does it ever make you smile when you ride your bike by a gas station full of cars and their drivers handing over fistfuls of cash to a man from somewhere far away? Does it ever make you smile when you get off work and climb into your car to go deal with a bunch of pissed off other drivers swerving in and out of traffic to get to the next red light? It is so easy and pleasant to get around town on my bike, as long as there aren’t a bunch of pissed off drivers not paying attention to where they are aiming their large metal boxes! We are in a town where it is so perfect to be able to get around, human powered, anywhere you need to be. Oh, and what about stress relief? Does it get any easier than swinging a leg over your bike and going for a cruise?
Then when it is time to play, out the front door and off to some of the best mountain bike riding anywhere. Like this one I had done; five hours door to peak to door. I love my bike!
Gravity. Told you there would be more on that later. Finally, I get my jaw back to not such a surprised position, closed. So where did you two start your hike? Well we drove over the pass and down to the other side blah blah hmm de haha yada yada. Oh, that must have been a good climb I add. Yeah he says, it was tough but beautiful and getting here makes it all worthwhile. But now we have to walk back down and that really hurts my knees. I look over at my bike, they both look at me, I know they understood a little something right there, silence, “I love my bike!”
I’m pretty sure I drifted away again as I began to think about this one rock section I’ve been trying to clean, (ride through without putting a foot down). That’s going to be super fun, this time I will get it. Oh and those swoopy banked turns, oh I can’t wait! My bike is so much fun when we get pointed downhill, this is where all that new technology really comes alive!
Oh no, they are looking at me kind of weird again. Helmet on, seat way down, front shocks in full travel mode. Well it’s been real nice chattin’, gotta drop. ’They look at each other, she says, “I bet that would be fun.” I love gravity!