Epiphany on two wheels

Was it the fresh air that brought on the belated insight?

Was it the fresh air that brought on the belated insight?

Sometimes insight comes with a lot of effort: reading, thinking, observing, analyzing, trying to connect the dots. Other times, it arrives out of nowhere, like a 2-by-4 upside the head.

If I’m gently rubbing my noggin while I write this, it’s because I had a 2-by-4 moment yesterday. Call it the epiphany on two wheels.

I was in a lousy mood (of my doing) Saturday afternoon. Rather than stew, I decided to go for a bike ride. With no particular destination in mind, no time constraints and, for a change, no earbuds, I found myself pedaling comfortably. Soon enough, I became aware of my tensions dissipating as I cycled from our neighborhood on a made-up route that took me past our old house, past the high school and park where our kids attended classes and played sports, and then out to other residential areas.

On the spur of the moment, I decided to continue eastbound to pay a surprise visit to my daughter. I knocked on her front door (yes, she was surprised), went inside to see the latest home improvement projects she and her wife have done, and chatted a bit before leaving to ride back home.

On the way back, I passed the newest apartment/condo buildings going up in our old neighborhood. I rode past an apartment complex known as one of the first places in Portland where Vietnamese refugees settled after the war. I saw a variety of scenes from everyday life  — of kids playing on the sidewalk, of a guy cleaning out his barbecue grill, of a Street Roots vendor selling newspapers outside a grocery store. All of it made me appreciate the gift of my five senses.

Pausing for a water break at a sun-kissed street corner, I had two insights:

One, riding a bike is not only good for the lungs and legs, but for the heart and mind as well. I felt more relaxed than if I had run or driven the same route.

Two, I don’t think I’d ever want to enter a bike racing competition — and maybe not even commit to a long-distance ride. I think doing either would detract from the freedom I felt just going wherever my whims took me at whatever pace felt comfortable.

I have friends and relatives who spend a lot more time on their bike saddle than I do, and I respect their commitment to vigorous exercise. No doubt they’ve experienced many of the same benefits I’ve just described.

Retirement is still a few years away, but I can imagine myself spending more time on two wheels once I’m freed of a work schedule. Heck of an insight, eh?

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6 thoughts on “Epiphany on two wheels

  1. I like to do 2-4hour rides on the back roads around Salem. Getting lost in my thoughts, taking in the scenery and not having to contend with urban stimuli like way more intersections, cross traffic, stoplights. Four hours is usually my upper limit, after that my butt is numb.

    • You’re in a great place to do all that, Bob. Wish I’d had the sense to do more of it myself when we were living in the Willamette Valley. Four hours on a bike. Can you imagine four hours of running, as in a marathon? Your butt wouldn’t be the only numb thang when you’re done.

  2. Compa – yes, the tranquility of riding comes in many forms. Yesterday, a friend down here in Santa Barbara celebrated his 76th with a “join in when you want” 76 mile ride. I did the last 55 miles with the group and our pace allowed for lots of chatter and sight-seeing along the ocean. Today, Elizabeth and I enjoyed a brief outing where our stop for coffee lasted longer than the the ride. I’ve learned there’s no bad choice when it comes to riding; they’re all good.

    • I have fond memories of my 500-mile bike ride with you and the gang in SBA. Oh, wait, did I say 500 miles? More like 20, maybe 30? In any case, I totally get what you’re saying. How great you could spend more time swilling coffee than in the saddle. Keep it up, viejo!

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