Stories

Biking: It’s In My Blood!

January 7, 2020

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Biking: It’s In My Blood!

“We ride for the sheer joy of it, and we shouldn’t let anything get in the way.”

Tyler Stortz

There’s nothing like the freedom of riding a bike.

I love gliding along, the wind rushing past, and the sun warming my back. Simple pleasures that instantly take me away from my busy day-to-day life and make me feel relaxed and happy.

And I’m lucky to have experienced these pleasures throughout different phases of my life, starting at a very early age.

My Dad’s Daily Bike Commute

Both of my parents worked when I was a child. Still, our family could only afford one car.

So, every day, rain or shine, I watched my dad suit up with whatever gear was appropriate for the season, strap his lunchpail to his carrier, and ride his bike from our house in the country to his factory job in the city, which usually took him 30 minutes or so. 

Even when snow was coming down, he would bundle up, leave a little earlier than usual, and bear the brunt of the cold as he rode.

Some shifts, I’d sit on the porch, excitedly bounce around, and eagerly wait for him to arrive home. And sure enough, I’d eventually see him cruising down the street toward our house.

The coolest part? He was always whistling.

Even at that young age, I could tell that no matter what kind of day he’d had at the factory, his stress had melted away during his ride home. 

That was magical to me. And hearing his whistle, seeing the joy on his face as he pulled up, made me want to feel the same.

Joining My Dad on His Rides

After I grew up a bit, Dad would arrive home to see me waiting at the end of the driveway with my little six-speed bike.

So, instead of hopping off like he used to, we’d both continue cruising past our house. We’d explore the streets and nearby trails, standing on our pedals to make it up the climbs, then flying down the hills as fast as we could.

Sometimes, we’d talk about our day during each ride. Others, sharing the feeling of freedom while we pedaled in silence was enough.

Riding ‘Til the Pedals Fall Off

One time, after we were about 40 minutes after we’d left, my bike’s left pedal fell off after a jolt from riding over train tracks.

Even though Dad knew I couldn’t make much progress with one foot, we were a long way from home, where all of our tools were.

I had no choice but to struggle, moving along at a crawl’s pace. My foot constantly slipped off the remaining pedal, which caused the left crankarm to bang into my leg with each rotation.

When my dad noticed that I was having problems and growing frustrated, he said something I’ll always remember:

“Tyler, when you get on a bike, it should be fun. It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, where you’re going to, or whatever else is going on in your life. Just let it all fade away and enjoy the feeling. You’re free.”

Dad

With that sage piece of advice, he locked my busted bike to a nearby tree and told me to hop onto his rear pegs. And once again, everything was okay with the world. 

We eventually made it home, returned to pick up my bike, and repaired its broken pedal. But that day, I learned something I’d instinctively known all along: we ride for the sheer joy of it, and we shouldn’t let anything get in the way.

Continuing My Dad’s Cycling Tradition

I’m now an adult with a son of my own.  

And when I head into work every day, I carry on my dad’s tradition. I leave my car in the driveway, climb on my bike, and lean into the curves as I cycle across the city to get to work.

When I’m tired or stressed after a 10-hour shift, I don’t want to bring a negative attitude home to my little guy.

My solution? Riding. It takes a little extra time, but by the time I arrive home, I’m relaxed and free. And just like my dad did when I was young, I pull up in front of the house whistling happily.

That’s the power of bike rides for me. They help me enter a better headspace and bring me back the world’s simple pleasures.

Passing My Cycling Tradition onto the Next Generation

Now, I’ll pass the same lesson along to my son when the right time comes.

In fact, he’s still a bit too young to ride, but I won’t let that stop me! Every chance I get, I take him out in a carrier, and we ride to all the local parks.

The wind whistles through our hair. The sun rests warmly on our shoulders. We’re free to enjoy life. Together.

Tyler Stortz is a resident of Welland, Canada, and works as a professor at Niagara College. He lives with his spouse and son (and another on the way), and currently rides a Giant hybrid bicycle.
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