Warm weather has returned to the Heartland. Sure, there was snow Thursday morning, but today it hit 60 degrees, and it was beautiful. To make the most out of Saturday afternoon, I took my road bike off the wall and went out for my usual 20 mile route north of town. The northern wind was brisk, but my Marmot jacket kept me warm as I pedaled down the county roads and remembered just how much I love bicycles.
This love wasn’t there from the very beginning though. That memory of my very first ride definitely left an impression with my grandfather giving me a push and my taking off pedaling right into a giant bush. I wasn’t smitten to say the least with the sport.
However, over the years, a bike has played a key role in many memories. Much later after the training wheels were gone, my mother, sister, and I would ride to town from our house in the country during summer evenings. Then when we would visit my grandparents in Midway USA, Kinsley, Kansas, I would spend hours exploring the town with my visiting shops downtown and soaking up the experience of what it would be like to live in town.
My first Trek came the day before my 19th birthday thanks to my mother and brother giving me some money to buy it. I also still have scars from that same day when the importance of wearing a helmet was reinforced with it saving my life after my tumbling down a hill and becoming a bloody mess.
While my riding here and there on my bike continued to be an occasional habit, it wasn’t until my living in Melbourne my true love for bicycles was realized.
For two months, I had been battling the idea of buying a bike. Then during a lecture in History of Gender and Sexuality about how bikes played a key role in the First Wave Feminist movement in which I may have created a long list of reasons to buy a bike in my notes, I decided to make the purchase that would change the course of my life.
For $200 at the Melbourne Uni’s bike store, Holstar Lightning became one of my best friends for much of the rest of my time in Australia. That first day when I was riding home in a warm late-summer rain while possibly singing Queen’s “Bicycle Race” at the top of my lungs (I may have been quite excited), we bonded, and I knew there was no turning back.
From simply riding to Melbourne Uni to taking on some of the 400+ miles of bike trails to exploring the lovely countryside on the Lillydale Warburton Rail Trail, Holstar opened up the country to me I would have missed by just traveling on foot or by Tram.
Coming back with a road bike I had bought for my first 100K and a new attitude towards cycling, I took on Kansas and saw some absolutely stunning things while traveling around on two wheels.
There is something about a bike that opens the world in a way none other forms of transportation can do. Cars zoom by scenery, but on a bike, one can see everything around and take in the land in a manner that is beyond my words. More than likely, this is one of the reasons why I tend to go on bike tours when I am visiting other cities. It is just a good way to check out a place and get a feel for the culture.
All of these memories and many more played through my mind this afternoon. With a huge smile on my face and possibly a song by Queen escaping my lips, I pedaled down the county road and took on just a small fraction of the many miles that will be covered this year in part to meet my one easy New Year’s Resolution (or actually sub-resolution) and in another to enjoy and explore the beautifulness out there.