WHY I RIDE: A series that gets to the heart of why we love what we do. This time Sarah tells us the story of how she fell in love with bikes.
I didn’t used to ride. It’s not normal where I’m from. I bought a bike just to get around—parking is too expensive, I thought. I didn’t know about what life could be like with a bicycle.
It started from a leap of faith and boredom. From energy to spare and nowhere to put it. A trip to the mountains was where it began. I rode over mountain passes. Through gaps and across bridges. I rode my first century. I cried tears of joy as I flew through the Smoky Mountains by the power of my own self.
My legs never hurt more. The pain was unbearable, but they said keep going, so I did. I didn’t realize your body could recover so quickly, and your pain would turn into strength. The miles passed, my body transformed, and when I returned I wasn’t my old self. I had discovered this layer of happiness underneath thick layers of boredom, confusion, hopelessness and sadness that had built up over my adolescence years.
Now I ride. I ride to feel alive. I ride because I can. I ride to run away from life for just a little while.
When I ride everything goes quiet in my mind. I focus on the road ahead. On the cars passing by. On my breath. On the smell of the air.
I say hello to the cows. I say hi to the chipmunks and squirrels and hope they pass my wheels safely. I say good morning to the rabbits.
I look up and smile as I watch the birds fly with me. Instead of seeing them in a blur, I get to see them as we fly the same speed. I have wings, too, I say.
I ride for the feeling of control. The feeling of strength, of power and choice. It’s my time to shine, and I can shine anyway I’d like. I can go fast, I can go slow, I can go faster, I can stop.
I stop. I hear nothing but the air. The birds. My breath. It’s a familiar scene, but every time it’s different. The light shining on the trees is different. Tonight’s sunset is spectacular. Being outside is liberating, and I get to spend all morning or afternoon or day or night out there, just riding my bike. I get the feeling I am part of something greater.
I ride to explore. I ride to get lost and to find something new. In the cities and countryside and in myself. This world is smaller than I thought, but bigger all at once. It’s closer to my reach, and more beautiful than I could ever imagine. I ride to ride it. To gain full access and to see what it has to offer.
I ride with others who ride. We ride together, enjoying this method of passing through the world by the power of our legs. We smile. We laugh. We sweat. We barely get a sentence in when we push ourselves faster. We both come from different lives, different reasons why we’re there out on the road together. But in that moment we share the simplicity of a bicycle ride that we both know goes well beyond pedaling.
I ride for my health and for my strength. For my memories and discoveries. For a purpose of life. For feeling free. For me.