Jimbob's Journal
My Bike
by Jim Harris

My bike saved my life. I guess what I mean is that it saved me from drowning in lethargy and tedium. Some personal losses and the general malaise of growing older had worn me down in the last few years. Things were not going according to plan, and every day was starting to feel like an uphill struggle. It occurred to me that I needed an escape, or "bolt hole" as my British friends like to say,. It had to be something that would remove all the burdens of responsibility and put me square in the moment, just enjoying being alive.

Then I saw her standing there among all the neglected artifacts that I could never bring myself to throw out - my old red bike, dormant for nigh on twenty years, held together by tape and wire, but sturdy and willing nonetheless (kind of like me). In the last six months we have rekindled our rusty old romance and become an impressive rolling unit of respectable ability. In the process, I have learned how to live in the moment, appreciate the past, and see life as a bicycle ride, all in one fell swoop.

So, whenever the appointments and phone calls and "to do" lists become almost too much to bear, out the door I go, no briefcase, no wallet, just me my bike, and the open road. I head down the tree lined lanes of my youth with the torrent of practical thoughts and considerations fading behind me. Walking seems too slow for me, running too plodding and graceless (at least the way I do it), and driving doesn't give me the ability to fully appreciate my surroundings.

Bike riding is, for me, the perfect way to become one with the scenery. I can smell the coffee in the morning and the wood fires at night. I can race the squirrels. I can hear music coming from the houses and people talking on the streets. This is my world. I belong here just like the birds and the squirrels because, like them, this is where I find myself. And a glorious world it is, full of sensory delights and interesting landscapes at every turn.

I ride by the places where I have lived, worked and played over the course of a lifetime. I revel in past glories one moment, and marvel at the beauty of a tree the next, all the while surveying the lay of the land and plotting my course. I know where all the peaks and valleys are and what I am capable of doing on any given day. And that's where life is like a bike ride, you work, you coast, you measure your pace and enjoy the ride.

Travelers throughout history have bestowed near-human status to the various vessels that have taken them on their myriad journeys. From canoes to lunar landing modules, we have given them names and treated them with respect. I guess I could buy a fancy new bike to make my ride a bit easier, but I love the old one. We go way back. She saved my life.

Back to Essays