A good bike ride does the heart good

Yesterday I had a random Friday off and decided to take a bike ride in the morning while the weather was still cool (around 70ish).  I’d never biked north of Ketchum on the highway before for fear of too much traffic, too little shoulder, too much wind, too much altitude gain and so on.  But I have a coworker who bikes to work and back EVERY DAY from 7 miles north on his cruiser while listening to books on tape.  The fact that he could do this every day and often times at night inspired me to try.  My goal was to make it the Sawtooth National Recreation Area headquarters, 7.5 miles north of town.

Riding up the wind was against me, trucks were driving by, and I was slowly gaining several hundred feet in elevation.  I found myself keeping my head down and charging forward, wondering what the next good turn around spot would be.  I was only halfway to the SNRA at this point.  But then, as magically happens when we are out walking or biking about, I looked up at the narrowing valley around me and was amazed.  I drive on this road frequently, but to move through the same space at a different pace and literally closer to the land makes for a very different experience.  I’ve felt this way often when riding my bike, and it’s why I love it so much.

I was especially inspired to view my ride this way after meeting Colum McCann last week, an author who spoke about his cross-country bike ride several years ago and about all of the wonderful experiences that he wouldn’t have had had he been making the same trip in a car.

Taking his perspective into mind, I realized how beautiful the morning light on the yellow sage-covered hills was, and felt a deep sense of peace as I examined it all at a biker’s pace.  Unlike while hiking, I didn’t have to watch where my feet were falling at every step (I stumble constantly while hiking because I’m always gaping at my surroundings, which can make for very slow hiking); I simply had to keep my bike in a straight line, which is something that I’ve fortunately gotten very good at.   And don’t worry, the shoulder wasn’t too tiny anyway, and the traffic barely bothered me once I began to enjoy my ride so much.  I only wished that I had a cruiser so that I could sit back and enjoy the views.


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