The gift that keeps on giving
I was recently pondering the simple joys of bicycling and how the activity gives us so much in return. Since our main audience consists of cyclists, I know that many of you reading this will say…yeah, duh. But I think it can be easy to lose sight of this as we get caught up in our busy lives. And I’m talking in more indirect ways than lower blood pressure and monetary savings.
I have friends and colleagues who recently completed some week-long bike tours around the state. My Facebook feed was filled with images of glorious mountain views, pieces of homemade pie and very, very wide smiles. It was great to get to experience at least a bit of the vibes from afar.
I’m not a camper, so I haven’t done the big local rides we have here in Colorado, but I’ve done a few bike tours through other operators. What a blast! I’ve experienced those smiles, and most importantly, the camaraderie of riding with others through challenging terrain, bad weather or an amazing unexpected roadside meal. I’ve made and kept friends from riding one single week together.
And it doesn’t take a bike tour to make this happen. I’ve been on the same bike team/club for many years now and have developed so many friendships over the years. It seems that I’ve had more bonding moments on my bike than really just about anywhere. That shared feeling of having made it up a big climb or through a hail storm unites you.
A Sense of Accomplishment
I see on the calendar that the Triple Bypass weekend is almost here. While I’m not in shape right now to ride 120 miles with 10K feet of climbing, I did ride this with my friend Rob a few years ago. We’ve been friends since first grade and it was great to share such an experience with him. There was no shortage of high fives after that long day in the saddle. If you’d told the high school or college me that I’d be able to do a ride like that, I would have just chuckled. But we kicked some butt and it was pure awesomeness.
Last fall, my California-based brother and I flew to Bloomington, Indiana to participate in the annual Hilly Hundred bike ride near our alma mater, Indiana University. You’d think coming from Colorado that some hills in southern Indiana would seem like minor bumps, but this was like riding a roller coaster track all day for two days and it was challenging! Thankfully (being Indiana) they served fried chicken and ice cream at the rest stops, which made it all worthwhile. It was nice to have tackled a new ride and terrain and to have shared it with old friends and family. Great memories.
Love and Happiness
So “love and happiness” might be a stretch, but I do without doubt feel happier on the days I’m able to bike commute and not drive. I love the wind in my hair, the unhurried pace on my big Dutch cruiser, seeing deer in the trees as I pass slowly by, and the stress-free transition from work to home. I think that’s the biggest gift that cycling gives me in return. And as far as love goes, I have many a friend who has met their mate either on a bike or through cycling. So, you never know…