I paused the other day to think about my cycling experiences and have determined that not only has the equipment changed considerably in the past thirty years, but so has my cycling preferences—perhaps it has a great deal to do with the body and mind’s ability to cope with aging. As a youth it was speed—get there first at all costs—the end was the goal. Time trials and racing contained the ultimate rush. Now, I seem to have a different focus—it’s the journey and the friends you make along the way—the means to the end. “Social cycling” or touring has taken me to places I have never been before—philosophically, spiritually and physically.
I was a college freshman at SDSU when I rode my last race. The Big Bike Race was not really a serious race. I was recruited to be the anchor rider for a team of young men that would become some of my best friends during college; and, to help win this cycling relay around a cinder lined track. It somehow transformed me.
Don’t take my comments wrong, I have enjoyed both racing and touring immensely. Perhaps one without the other would have made me incomplete. And trust me when I say, I wish I still had the athleticism that could match the challenges posed by racing. I still marvel at the phenomenal athletic skill and confidence of the cyclist that can ride the various stages of Le Tour de France and the regional athletes that rode South Dakota’s first Criterium last weekend. But now, I slow in my pace and enjoy the ride. I still marvel…but this time, at how a day’s ride reveals the beauty and wonders of the world.
Even though a fair share of my life has passed since then, I again find refuge and refreshment in riding my bike. When I need clarification in life’s trials, a bike ride usually puts things in perspective. When I have writer’s block, a bike ride clarifies my thoughts. When I need to “feel”, a bike ride with friends makes the world inspirational. It’s not how fast or slow your pace; it’s that you’re riding.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” –Albert Einstein 1879-1955