Why I Ride

Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue.— Henry James

There are days when I don’t feel like driving to a location and having to get everything ready. But there is a need deep within me; it is compulsory. Re-discovering the bicycle in my middle years has brought me to a place of escape. I am like most men of my age: my children drifting away from the house, my wife and I finding so much free time (time that was completely consumed with ball games, ballet, and birthday parties), and reassessing what to do now; these are but a few of my thoughts as a I ride.

The simplicity of a machine like a bicycle can be very liberating. Checking my bike over, squeezing the brakes, pumping life into my tires, and lightly turning the front and real wheel for true, I’ll wait a second or two and listen to the ticking of gears. As my shoes snap into the peddles and  churn the crank, the familiar sound of wind in my helmet is almost a calling of sorts. It is just me, the bike, and the road. Isolation is so powerful. Sure, cars are going by and people are walking in and out of shops, but it is just me, the bike, and the road.

Miles into the ride, my heart has made it to a comfortable but demanding place, and my legs burn with lactic acid. The suffering of a cyclist is a good thing. Pain reminds him of how much he is alive. I equate this to our physical and mental pain in life. We raise children into adults and watch as they slowly become their own person, hurting to see them go but elated in knowing we did the best we could in most (not all) situations.

Wanting to be a better cyclist never stops. Riding faster and longer are always within the next day’s ride, so I load my bike on days that I don’t feel like driving to a location and getting everything ready. Life does not end when you still have the ability to live.


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