I am sad to say that my beloved car, after a decade or so of effectively driving me and my family to many, many places, is on the verge of giving up the ghost. It was never a very good car; it was in constant need of repairs, both large and small, and the check engine light frequently came on for no reason at all. But it was my car, and I will be sorry to see it go, particularly because I needed it to get to work.
Which is not to say that I don’t have other ways of getting places; mostly, I’m just horribly lazy.
With that said, this post will address the bike ride I took this past Saturday.
I haven’t ridden my bike in a long time. Truth be told, I feel a little slighted with regard to my bike. When I got this bike, about 5 or 6 years ago, I was unimpressed with the quality. It squeaks a bit, one of the caps for the gear changers on the handlebars is missing, and the seat is very uncomfortable. That same year, my sister received a very nice, newer road bike. Needless to say, I was and continue to be jealous.
However, my bike does have a lovely pair of baskets on the back, into which I placed my bag and jacket on Saturday morning at 7 and, with dew in the grass and the morning mist dispersing, set off for the Poudre River trailhead, which is a little ways from where I live and goes right past the bustling downtown area of my little city.
I’d forgotten how much I enjoy bike rides. The feeling of wind whistling past your ears, the slight burn that builds up in your legs as you propel yourself forward, the great, deep breaths of air that you pull into your lungs as you ride, all of these things are sensations found in very few places. In addition, unlike driving a car, you are not separated from nature. Indeed, it’s close enough to touch, to run your hands through.
As I reached the trailhead, I marveled at the number of people I saw. Joggers jogged, bikers biked, dog-walkers held tightly onto leashes as their dogs hurried forward, eager to taste all of the things they smelled.
I biked along at a leisurely pace, and soon found myself pedaling alongside the Poudre River. Our little river is nothing compared to the grand expanse of the Mississippi or Missouri, but it is straight from the snow in the mountains, and the water is clearer than any other I’ve ever seen.
I recently finished the book for the FYS class I’ll be a fellow for this fall at Coe. The book was called Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis by Cynthia Barnet. It is a great read for anyone, but particularly if you’re interested in conservation and the green movement. As I rode along the river, I thought about one of the messages of the book; getting closer to natural water makes people more aware of their water usage.
I pulled off to one side of the path and dismounted. Untying my shoes, I skipped over to the icy cold water and dipped my feet in, feeling the grains of the sand and the stones beneath my feet. The water was so chilly my feet felt like they were on fire, but at the same time I felt more at peace than I have for some time. It may sound silly, and even a little bit clichéd, but there is something about spending time in nature that serves to calm me, causing me to become more reflective. As I stood in that frigid water, I thoughts about how incredible water is; life clusters around it, trees, bushes, and animals. The ecological systems of water are just as important as those of land, even if they are harder to see. It’s these ecosystems that provide our planet its life-support system, and it is also these ecosystems which we find easiest to ignore because they are not immediately apparent. I thought about the fact that rainwater collection in Colorado is still illegal for many people, and how silly that law seems to me. I thought about the fact that most people can’t imagine the world 1000 years from now, and that, without that imagination, we may very well not make it 1000 years.
At that point, my feet began to grow quite cold, so I stepped out of the water. But I didn’t forget, as I pedaled off, the feeling of being surrounded by water, of returning to the place where life had begun. Everyone should, I think, take some time to stand in a river, to feel the water rushing around them, and to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Just some food for thought.
As Always, Yours,