My mother would often relate to me that as a youngster growing up that I was always “into everything”. A curious child that would very often get into various predicaments, sometimes quite harrowing. As a 4 year old I apparently climbed up a neighbors roof top via an unattended ladder all the way up the 3 story house’s highest point and got stuck and scared, (how I got off safely is another story).
Curiosity is what drives human beings out in the world everyday to ask questions about what’s going on around them. Storytelling is the act of bringing home the discoveries learned from curiosity. Story telling gives us the ability to tell everyone what we’ve learned or to tell the story of our adventure. Curiosity and storytelling are intertwined, what makes the story fresh is the point of view of the person telling it. Our stories are our realities, they are ours. We can tell them how we want and that’s what makes it interesting and unique. Everyone has a story.
In reality there are many reasons why I ride my bike, the obvious physical benefits. They way it makes me feel, the stress management and the freedom of descending open air on two wheels as well as the suffering associated with a brutal climb. Cycling and how it allows me to see my world from a very distinctive perspective is in large part what excites me so much. Often times every bike ride has a potential story. The story of a bike ride is NOT just about pedaling or how many miles covered, elevation gained or time spent in saddle. The many aspects of a simple bike ride that intrigue me, especially recently are, “the wonder of what I have in store for me, who might I meet along the way, what types of animals/wildlife will I encounter on the off road sections that I frequent, how will my legs feel, will I be able to make it back home, will I have mechanicals/flat tire etc.”?
How can a simple act of going for a bike ride result in a story to be told? Perhaps an excerpt from my bike diary (I don’t really have a bike diary…but it’s my story and I can tell it anyway I want) of 10/6/16 “an ordinary unplanned solo ride can help explain.
“Today I rode my Cannondale Slate (adventure bike/gravel grinder) from Van Buren Cove Long lake to Van Buren and back. In my camp driveway as I prepared to depart I bumped into Carla an old high school classmate, we had a nice conversation and caught up. After a 15 minute delay I began the 12 mile dirt road trip while spotting a black bear and the most beautiful whitetail deer before arriving at the Borderview nursing home and rehabilitation center. Once there I decided to get off my bike and visit some “old folks” from my past. A former patient, Lorraine who I hadn’t seen in years, told a joke or two to Pete. I said hello and bye to my wife, her coworkers and the nurses as I placed my helmet firmly on my head to continue on my afternoon journey. I hopped back on my bike, from the nursing home at the top of State street I made my way down into town riding through my old neighborhood and decided to stop in for a visit and a snack at my parent’s house, John and Mona were home, I was in luck. Next stop Leo’s barbershop, no not for a haircut but for a spirited and jovial conversation with Leo and Cora (the mother of another classmate who I hadn’t seen in over 20 years). Three store fronts down Main street is Hebert’s pharmacy, there I wanted to stop in to see if John Jr. was working. Unfortunately he wasn’t but a quick hello to Marco and a waiting customer Bobby and then a little information to John Sr. about some good back road hunting spots before hitting the road back to camp. Instead of heading down main street I decided to take the back streets of town, there I saw Mona a 60 some year old woman with cerebral palsy who I fondly remember from my youth, walking with her distinctive gait the same route with grocery bag in hand. I remembered her with the same cheery smile and pleasant hello…just as I did today!
Once back to camp and a cool refreshing fall swim and beer in hand I contemplated my ride while letting the late afternoon sun warm my face while my body relaxed in the old lawn chair by the edge of the lake. It occurred to me that I literally said hello or had short conversations with everyone I met or encountered. A minimum of 14-15 people, all pleasant and genuinely interested in what I was doing or what I had to say. Today’s ride covered approximately 26 miles and took over 4 hours, but who cares!! This was no ordinary ride, as I nodded off to sleep I was wondering if I would ever have another ride like this one.