Better Living on Two Wheels

 

Why We’re Thankful for Bikes

There’s a famous painting by Bruegel called “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus”. You don’t notice it right away, but if you look real close, in the bottom right-hand corner you can see Icarus’ little legs kicking in the water. The lesson here is: if you have wings made of feathers and beeswax, don’t fly too close to the sun, because your wings will melt and you will fall into the ocean and no one will save you because people are busy.

Of course, the real moral of the story of Icarus warns us of complacency and excessive pride. I tend to follow the philosophy that the path to happiness lies somewhere in the middle. But in order for me to stay grounded, I need something to keep me there. I need: “My Center”.

This week we’re talking about why we’re thankful for bikes. In prepping for this article, my first thought was about exercise. But that’s not the whole story of why I’m thankful for bikes. While exercise is a part of it, I feel the bike offers a whole lot more.

Three years ago I was a “non-traditional” art student, finishing up a bachelor’s degree. If you’re unfamiliar with that term (because I was), non-traditional means old. In addition to school, my son had just been born. So, fresh out of college and feeling old, I was now a new Dad with no job. The first year and a half was very stressful. After many job interviews and literally hundreds of resumes and job applications sent, I eventually found a position here at Performance.

Determined to prove my worth, I went out and bought a bike and started riding. At forty years old, I hadn’t been on a bike in many, many, many years. Putting in the miles was difficult at first, but it was important to me that I adapt to the culture, post haste! So, off I went.

Eventually, I would ride everything from steel frames to carbon frames, experience road and mountain bike riding and even do a bit of cross country touring. I changed a few flats on the side of the road, cycled home in the rain, fell over while clipped in, and ran out of water on one of the hottest days of the year. In just a little over a year, I look back now and can’t believe how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve experienced by just simply riding a bike.

What I’ve discovered since then is that the bike has now become my center. A special device that helps me think, smile and breathe. It has become nicely integrated into my own little, existential timeline and provided me with a tool to deal with the constant flow of unrelenting obstacles. It’s breathed new life into my lungs and soul and given me the energy required to face each new day with optimism. In short, the bike has brought me joy. When I ride a bike, I feel like a kid again and I’m so thankful for it.

Because of bikes, I now have a full-time job I like, I’m living a more active and healthier lifestyle and I’m able to focus on what matters most – like my three year old son. And let me tell you something, that kid is a non-stop tornado of energy and activity. It’s hard to keep up with him. But thanks to my bike, I’m staying afloat.

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