The value of a bike ride

Lloyd Lemons - Jacksonville, FL

The value of a bike ride

I was asked the other day: Why are you so crazy about cycling? For me, the answer is not as simple as it might seem. I’d like to come up with a single sentence answer that will serve for casual conversation, but until I do, I will share with you the long answer as to why I like to ride—so much.

I love the sense of freedom I feel when I’m rolling down the blacktop: gliding, leaning, forward motion, vibrations, and the wind in my face. There’s a constant change of scenery, I can see it, feel it, and smell it. That freedom carries with it a sense of autonomy, a sense of adventure. Even though I may have traveled the same roads many times before, I get a sense of exploration similar to when I was a kid pedaling my 24-inch Western Flyer down neighborhood streets that I wasn’t allowed to ride on.

Then, as now, I could feel the earth spinning under my body, almost as if my pedaling made it spin, and it gave me an inexplicable high.

I love the simplicity of the bike. Forget for a moment frame geometry, gear ratios, roll impedance of various tire constructs, and other techno-talk. The bike is a frame with two wheels that must be propelled by the rider—no fire, no fumes. There’s something organically rewarding about the act of using my own human power to push myself along. It was exciting when I was 10; it’s eminently satisfying now that I’m 60.

The bike offers me time to be alone. I can choose to think about things, or just enjoy the world and all its elements. For me, a good long bike ride is often a time when I can generate ideas for a better way of doing things, and dream of new approaches to happiness.  Riding my bike is psychotherapy; it’s my refuge from chaos, my commitment to better health, and my church.

Riding my bike is the antithesis of being cloistered in a capsule of anonymity. In a peculiar way, it’s very much like voicing my feelings about the world.

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