Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Why

A personal essay on Dan, by Dan

I like to ride bikes. A lot. I've never been able to pin point the exact reason why, and don't think I ever will. For every different season of life, there is a different reason to ride. For every different mood of the day, there is a different motive to pedal.

I've ridden to get away from the stress of school, to relieve the pain of heartbreak, to celebrate the joy of finding someone new. I've ridden to get in shape, to stay in shape, to lose weight, to get fast, to gain endurance. I've ridden with friends to enjoy their company, to share my life, to listen to theirs, to share my woes, and to listen to theirs.

I've ridden to be alone, to bask in the solitude of an empty road or serenity of a remote trail. I've ridden to the sound of nothing but leaves in the wind, to the sound of my own heart beating, my own breath gasping, my own joints creaking, and my own chain squeaking. I've ridden to the sound of Led Zeppelin, U2, Beyonce, The Killers, The Cure, The Who, and Johnny Cash.

I've ridden away from people, places, problems, and feelings, and ridden into strange places, new places, new people, and strange people. I've ridden to the store for food, to the doctor for physical healing, to the church for spiritual healing. I've ridden to friends houses to visit, to the bank for money, to work to earn money, and to the bike shop to spend money.

I've done things on a bike that have pushed my known limits. Accomplished feats I never dreamed possible. Ridden faster, further, longer, over bigger hills, down steeper hills, around lakes, around mountains, over mountains, and across fields. I've finished rides that that seemed impossible, reached summits that seemed unreachable, cleared trails that seem impassible,

I've ridden my bike into cars, trees, holes, ditches, bushes, logs, snowbanks, ice sheets, rocks, and rivers. I've broken skin, bones, wheels, handlebars, seats, spokes, and helmets. I've torn jerseys, shorts, and socks; scraped knuckles, knees, shins, chins, paint, and carbon. I've ridden into physical injury, with only scars now to remind me of the pain. I've ridden into emotional healing, with only memories now to remind me of the pain.

Riding has taught me to be tough, has taught me to persevere, has taught me to take pride in my abilities, and humility in my shortcomings. I've worked hard, I've slacked, taken the hard road home, taken the easy way out. I've gone the extra mile, climbed the extra hill, pushed the harder gear, felt the pain of exertion, and appreciated the joy of relaxing.

I've ridden to train, to get fast, to win races, to finish long events, to ride from Seattle to Portland with my dad, to sprint, to time trial, to practice handling, to practice popping wheelies, to practice riding with no hands.

I ride to think. I ride to ponder. I ride to let my mind wander. I've had my best ideas while out on my bike, and my worst ideas.

I've ridden to get away from pain, ridden to feel the pain, and ridden in spite of pain. I've ridden to prove to myself I could, ridden to prove to others I could, ridden for noble reasons, ridden for foolish reasons, ridden out of humility, ridden out of pride. I've been out on my bike during the highest of highs, when it felt like the even the top of the world was under me, and I've been out on my bike at the lowest of lows, when I felt like nothing was worth living for.

I've ridden myself into who I am. Riding has allowed me to shape, mold, build, and rebuild myself into existence. Out on my bike I am able to deal with life and cope with what is real. Out on my bike I have been who I was, am who I am, and will be what I am to become.

Riding has given me what I have, made me who I am, and taught me what I know.

And that is why I would rather be out on my bike.


Alyssa said...

Dan, that was quite well written. you surprise me sometimes. How's the Thesis coming?


Megan said...

Very nice. I've always thought you should be a writer. Even the letters you sent home from your mission were well written.

I wish there were something in my life I felt that kind of passion about. This might sound really lame, but not even my kids define me as well as your riding your bike defines you. Apparently I need a new hobby.

Alyssa said...

I think you ought to submit it for publication.

It'll touch a whole lot more lives in Bicycling magazine than a published thesis in the Journal of Exercise Phys.

Alyssa this time

nails said...

So, I always rode for 2 things only. 1. To get chicks. 2. To be faster than you. Well I got the girl, and I just can't be faster than you, so I don't ride anymore. Youre a stud. KILL IT ON SATURDAY!