Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Boy and His Bike

This is a picture from last year, when the long-suffering spouse rode his bike home (to Illinois) from New Jersey. He's off on this year's monster ride now, still headed west and hoping to make it to South Dakota. And back. I have sort of a vested interest in him making it back, too, so if you could hold that thought....

Why would a person do such an absurd thing? Well, I don't actually know, since I've never done it. But I am a long-distance cyclist of a more normal variety. I can knock out 80-100 miles on a weekend day and live to tell the tale. First, and it's the reason I get on my bike every day in the season, it's just fun -unless there's a kick-ass headwind, which does happen. But mostly I just smile the whole time on my bike. It's like flying.

Secondly, we're approaching our middle years, if not quite our dotage. Our children would prefer it if we didn't become frail burdens to them. Well, they've never said that, but I'm sure it's true. What I absolutely know is that we don't want to be burdens. I want to grow old gracefully -a long time from now. And it turns out there are still fitness gains that can be made, even at my advanced age. And we get to have fun while we do it. Oh wait, I said that part already.

Third, there's the ethical component of being a cyclist. Every dollar you spend, every action you take, is a vote for the kind of world you want to have. Dave is way more ethical than I am on this point. He wants the world to be safe for cyclists. He wants cities to be organized in such a way that biking is the easy choice. He wants the environment to be improved. He didn't learn to drive at all until he was 30, and I can't think of the last time he actually did it. He gets in the car and I drive perhaps once a week. Really. He's in a car at most once a week. It's a rare day when I don't use the car for something.

And finally, bike time is quiet time. Certainly it is the way he does it, but even the way I do it. We all need quiet, solitude, and meditative activity. For him it's biking.

But I do wish he were home.

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