With Thanks to the Bike

I was standing in the shower pondering the finer points of life, when my mind wondering to this online space. What should I write about today? I wasn’t feeling jazzed about simply telling you about my ride. I wanted to write something interesting but not too crazy deep that it scares you off… I got to thinking about friends, life, things that make me smile, and just generally what I’ve experienced. (Yes, I’m still in the shower at this point… I had a long ride in the cold wind – needed to warm up!) And these thoughts of life and what makes me happy really kept on coming back to the bike.

I think what really reminded me of how valuable the bike is in my life was this past Sunday’s Almonte-Roubaix. Now, I didn’t do the race and haven’t done it since 1995. But just being there hanging out with all the hardy folk who raced the event, really drove home how valuable the bike is to me. As some of you know I started riding after graduating from university in 1994. As luck would have it, I had a job at Southam News and my desk was just outside of Ian Austen’s office. For those of you involved with the Ottawa cycling scene, you know Ian – he is the organizer along with Bob Woods of the esteemed cyclo-cross series and the Almonte-Roubaix. It was Ian who got me into cycling and helped me find and choose my first bike. He pointed me in the direction of the Tuesday night women’s time trials and advised me against stuffing tissues into my shorts (my nose runs when I ride) and suggested I start using the big ring for the time trials…

On Sunday, I got to talk with a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was great. I really have never had so much fun at a bike race. It was just awesome to connect with people over something so simple as a bike. Thanks to the bike I’ve met people from all walks of life and I’ve learned some valuable life lessons. The bike has brought me all over the world. It has kept me feeling and looking young. It has been my escape when my brain won’t stop chattering. Really, sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t got that first road bike way back in 1994? How would my life had turned out? Would I have even met Marc?

The one thing I can honestly say is that the bike will be with me for life. I can’t imagine not riding my bike. One day when I’ve hung up my skinsuit, I know that I’ll still be out there riding. Simply seeing people riding around town on their bikes brings a smile to my face. They may not recognize it, but that trusty bike being used to get to university class or to the grocery store, is a friend for life.

This is getting a bit wonky here. But what I’m just really trying to say is Thanks. Thank-you bike for giving me such fantastic gifts. Great friends. Great life experiences. Freedom. The chance to get out there and really learn what is truly valuable to me. Without the bike, I really don’t know what I’d be doing.

For most of you, I’m guessing you have a similar connection to the bike. But for others, I’m assuming there is something else in your life that gives you this feeling. Whatever it is, take a second to really consider it and what it has given you. I sincerely hope that none of you are sitting there scratching your head trying to figure out what it is that has given you this feeling of freedom, joy, belonging, escapism, and pure happiness. Everyone deserves to feel these things each and everyday.

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