I Love My Bike
By Jay Bartlett
My bike is a pretty great thing, but it is not because of the shiny high-tech tidbits that fit precisely onto the well-engineered, eye-catching frame. I’ll admit those things are a draw, but as the saying goes, “Beauty is only skin deep.” There’s some sort of connection I have with my bike, and I think everyone who spends time riding can appreciate that sentiment in some way. Show of hands…How many of you have come zipping into the parking lot after riding a great trail and exclaimed, “I love my bike!” I certainly have. My bike transports me to an endorphin-laced fun place away from the cares of the day: a trait worthy of love.
Most of us started riding as kids. Aren’t those some of your best memories? Who can forget the excitement of learning to pedal without training wheels, the first ride around the block, and the adventures that would unfold with a tire leading the way? For most people, those moments are so strong that the emotion of riding a bike is imprinted for life. Even though we’ve matured, riding takes us back. I have morphed from a child riding my little twenty-inch Schwinn through the woods when I was a child to a grown man kicking up dust on Bear Claw Poppy’s desert clay.
My bike is pretty great. It comes from a great lineage that’s over one hundred years old and is the most fuel-efficient vehicle ever invented. Eat a good breakfast, then ride thirty miles. Pretty great! That’s an example of the “connection.” On the bike, I am the motor. Fuel me up, and I make that machine go. There’s something special about grunting and pushing up and over a sandstone ledge all under the drive that I created. Don’t get me wrong, I also love the internal combustion engine. I’ve had many great moments on dirt bikes and in off-road cars that do essentially the same thing as a mountain bike, but I really like being the motor!
There are only five points of contact with your body to the bike: hands, feet, and butt are all connected to the bike and influence the outcome of how you maneuver through a piece of singletrack. The amount of feedback your bike gives you must be processed by your brain and interpreted into “body English” to make your bike swivel through a rock garden that surprises you after coming out of a corner at fifteen miles an hour. If you’re connected, it can feel so seamless you’re not even sure how you did it!
My bike is pretty great. It takes me “out there.” My bike and I head off into the desert or mountains frequently, getting away from the city’s cluster to the open spaces where the only sounds are the tires digging into the dirt, the buzz of a freehub, my breathing, wind in the trees, and maybe the call of a hawk. For something that can be so very exciting at times, riding has lots of calm, much of which comes after the ride.
My mom once told me she was happy that I had found my passion. Riding is my passion. It makes me happy and challenges me in many ways. It rewards me with health, a sense of accomplishment, calmness in a hectic world, and fun. It’s a shame society fools us to believe that having too much fun means it’s time to straighten up and fly right. Responsibility is required, but fun shouldn’t be sacrificed. It’s the essence of life, and I’m grateful that I’ve connected with a simple, graceful machine that enhances my ability to live a fun life.
I love my bike.