Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Kid Riding His Bike in the Woods

Note from Newt: This post was meant to include some funny moments, but it didn’t turn out that way. I think I’ve been a little too tired while writing. There are a lot of great stories under the surface here and I’ll start posting those soon.

A little while back, Fat Cyclist was hosting guest contributions so Elden could tend to some more pressing issues. This is where I first read the work of Jim, the proprietor of the Unholy Roleur. In this post, Jim describes his foray in to mountain biking, and how he discovered a new, albeit brutal, love. See the post here. I’ve been a fan of Jim’s blog since, and would recommend it to anyone that’s in to cycling, food, and the occasional hilarious rant. Jim’s post made me think about my love for mountain biking and how it was once an obsession for me. (Of course, it probably would be again had I had the time to devote to it.) It also got me thinking about where this love began.

When I was twelve years old, in the early 1980’s, I moved to a new neighborhood, and quickly gravitated to a wooded area down the street. My new friends and I would spend hours exploring the singletrack trails in this undeveloped area. These forays into the patch of wilderness were an escape from an unpleasant and complicated home life, and gave me an opportunity to think about only me, my bike, and the good time I had with my friends. The use of a bike as a means of escape from the trials of life was a valuable lesson. Unfortunately, after another couple of moves and discovering the much different type of freedom afforded by a car, it was one of many that I choose to ignore until later.

I later served in the U. S. Air Force as a Security Policeman, and landed a spot on the bases bike patrol section. I initially joined the bike patrol because it allowed me to go to work in shorts, and kept me out of working at the base’s gates, a mind numbing assignment where you are totally dependent on whoever happens to be on patrol in your area. But mainly it was the ability to work in shorts. I didn’t have to iron my uniform every day and didn’t have to shine my shoes. Did I mention I can be a bit lazy? What I found in this job was much more than a more relaxed wardrobe. I found pleasure in my work. It certainly wasn’t because of the incidents I responded to, or the people I had to deal with day in and day out. I enjoyed my job because of the bike. It gave me a chance to be unnoticed while I was working, and allowed moments of escape after some particular trying times.

The bike made work fun. I don’t think there is a better way to explain it. There were several of us on the bike patrol, and I was again able to ride with my friends and this time, I got paid for it. Sure, we had to deal with the occasional dose of real life and respond to the odd incident, but even that could be made entertaining with an impromptu race.

Riding for work eventually led back to riding for fun, and many of my life’s decisions were made with riding in mind. More on that later…

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