Put My Body on a Bike, Please
“That’s the beauty of biking. It doesn’t discriminate.”Gail Strock
I never liked biking. During my childhood, it always seemed to involve forcing our single speeds over pot-holed farm lanes and dirt roads.
As the third in line, I rode oversized hand-me-downs that my older siblings didn’t want, which made me struggle to keep up. The final straw was the skid marks across my chest, left by a person behind me who couldn’t stop when I crashed. With the wind knocked out of me, my siblings wheeled me the quarter-mile toward home, hoping all the while they wouldn’t get into trouble for not protecting me.
That time, I was glad they put me on a bicycle. Afterward, though, I parked my bike in the barn and forgot about it. I’m not even sure when I boarded one again. Probably in college to get to class.
Today, my husband and I own three bikes each, and we always hope for good weather so we can ride. What changed?
Plenty. Our bikes now fit us like none before. The roads seem smoother, tires more trustworthy, and chains less cantankerous. Our biking gear has gotten better, too. We now wear helmets! And bug spray, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
We’ve also discovered destinations beyond our neighbor’s farm fields. Ten years ago, we cycled with our son through Pine Hill Park near Rutland, Vermont, to see the bike bridge he helped build as part of a college project. Then, when he moved to Utah, he snagged a job at ENVE.
During our visits, we biked the singletrack trails in the canyons around Logan. Now that he’s in Washington state and working at SR SUNTOUR, we’re exploring the Pacific Northwest, riding gravel paths in state and national parks and forests.
Closer to home, we’ve biked the Great Allegheny Passage Trail and C&O Canal rail trail for three days, Pennsylvania’s Little Grand Canyon, and plenty of gravel roads in between. We cycle to places we once hiked, swapping out bikes as needed for each destination and adventure.
On tap for 2020 are the trails in and around Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware, and Asheville, North Carolina. We’re planning a three-day ride on the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota as we pass through along our way west. But, just as satisfying are the rides that start at the end of our driveway.
Notice the progression—from singletrack and rail trails to gravel and paved roads. Biking has allowed us to adapt as our bodies have changed. Can’t backpack like we used to? Let the bike carry the weight. Can’t hike like we used to? Let the bike’s dual shocks absorb what our knees can’t. Our bikes have become the bodies we once had—taking us farther than we could ever walk.
And that’s the beauty of biking. It doesn’t discriminate. There’s a bike for you—mountain, racing, recumbent, adaptive, cruisers, single-speeds, tricycles, traveling foldables, eBikes, and even four- to six-seaters on the boardwalk at the ocean.
Mobility and freedom. That’s what cycling means to us. Put my body on a bike, please!