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You just crested the hill. Your legs are a bit tired, it takes a little bit to catch your breath, but the pounding of your heart makes you feel alive. Now, laid out before you is a long straight stretch which means it is now just you, your bicycle, and your thoughts. I LOVE those moments! It is a cornucopia of emotions leaping about in your brain all at once: accomplishment, fatigue, determination, and nirvana. Ok, maybe not everyone feels this way, but oh what a world if they did!
This summer has been a new exciting journey for me. I have always loved bicycling, but the addition of a road bike to my collection of vintage single speed cruisers and a knobby tired mountain bike opened up a whole new world. Commuting to my business meetings by bicycle was now a reality. As well as using a bicycle as my main source of transportation. Not that my old cruiser or mountain bike wouldn’t do the job, it just takes longer, that is not always an option when you have several places to be in a certain time frame.
So far this year I have logged 678.6 miles. That is a significant jump from previous years where my total for the entire year would probably be less than 200 miles. I have made several trips by bicycle to Post Falls and Hayden, a ride with Tom out to the Stateline, rode all over Boise while we stayed there for four days, rode out to Rathdrum once, and multiple trips within Coeur d’Alene. My goal is to have logged 900 miles by the end of the year, which means I may be riding in some rain and snow to get that accomplished unless I get out and ride a significant amount every day from now until the first snowfall.
During the almost 680 miles I have ridden I have been able to do a lot of thinking. It is probably one of the big reasons I love riding; along with being able to actually smell the roses, feel the wind on my face, and best of all eat whatever I want! (If you haven’t heard…bicycling burns a fair amount of calories.) Currently, my favorite places for reflection are on the North Idaho Centennial Trail heading west from downtown Post Falls out to the Stateline, the Prairie Trail heading north from Riverstone to Huetter Road, and 15th Street heading north out to Deerhaven Ave. There are long stretches where you are all alone, traffic is either non-existent or moving the way it should be, and the rhythm of your feet becomes steady enough that it allows you time to think.
Some of my most brilliant ideas have come to me while riding! With the best one being, to get other people to get out of their vehicles and onto a bicycle, I need to show them by doing and most of all are positive. I show them by riding daily in everyday clothes, I tell them it took me a long time to be confident riding in traffic, and most importantly I have ridden almost 700 miles and I am still alive! I can spout about the benefits: health, environmental, blah, blah, blah, blah, but ultimately you have to “ride” the talk.
Being an advocate for bicycling or multi-modal transportation means you focus on ALL the 5 e’s (engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation) not just one. There is not one of them that is more important than the other. If one spoke is missing in your wheel you have a problem. You HAVE to have them all. Also, you need to play well with others. Being cooperative with other people, organizations, governments, etc. helps things move forward without leaving a bad taste in anyone’s mouth, (like that flying insect you swallowed on your last ride). Yeah, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but all people remember is how annoying it was and that they just wished it would go away. It is much better to be the grease that helps make everything run smoothly. I am choosing to be the grease! This year it will be 900 miles, maybe next year I will double that while still working to get more people out of their vehicles and onto bicycles.
How about you? Where is your favorite place to ride and think? Any brilliant ideas you want to share? What will you do this year or next to get one other person out riding? Most importantly, are you the grease or the squeaky wheel?
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