“I realize my humanity in proportion as I perceive my reflection in the landscape that enfolds me.” –N. Scott Momaday, Testimony, 1996.
After breaking my hip last year, what I found I missed so much was going outside and into the mountains on a bike ride. As soon as I could get back to it, I did. It was almost like being born again, waking up to the power of the mountain’s healing powers.
Cycling out of town and getting into the mountains is a joyful exercise. It’s almost like you’re re-establishing contact with sacred ground. Riding my bike into the mountain forest feels like I’m entering nature with a whisper, my own breathing the main sound, along with wind sifting through the trees. You tune into the dynamics of light. Your attention to nature is rewarded, the world sort of invites you in. It’s seductive.
In this calm you are startled by the bustle of nature! During this Fall bike trip deer appeared suddenly in the Aspen grove I stopped to admire. But when I looked at them it seemed like they were always there, like there was a moment of eternity in the quiet.
My doctor told me to “ride my bike like crazy” when he saw me for my six month check-up from the hip surgery. The circular motion of the pedal stroke works wonders for breaking down the scar tissue. My physical therapist told me I was doing a good job helping myself by riding my bike. It felt good to receive the encouragement, and also felt awesome to get out into mountains that overlook town and soak up that energy.
One of my friends sent this article to me from NY Times about a photojournalist stuck at home during the pandemic, and he just started to document his rides in the local landscape. “It’s brought home the truth that you don’t need to board a plane and jet off to the far side of the world to experience a sense of travel or the romance of difference. It lies waiting on your doorstep — if you look” (Roff Smith). “These images, though, aren’t meant to be about me. They’re meant to represent a cyclist on the landscape, anybody — you, perhaps” he goes on to say. One of the gifts of this pandemic is more people are finding the necessity of outdoor adventure and making it local, sustainable travel, that anyone can do. Wonderful! As someone once said, cycling is contagious.
“And when I push off down the street, the world becomes big again, the way it used to be when I was a child: rich in detail, ripe for discovery” (Roff Smith).
And so I pedal on, continually looking for the next adventure out my front door. Things are different now. I know how fast things can change. If anything, I appreciate cycling even more. Grateful for the healing and a return to wholeness, I keep looking for ways to open more doors for more people, so they can get grounded on the bike too.
When I get out there on my bike and pedal, I realize the world is more beautiful than you think. You have to experience it. Feel it. I am so grateful to have more cycling to do. My sincerest thanks to everyone who has helped me get back on my feet.