Kremmling " Discover a new world from the seat of a bike |

Kremmling " Discover a new world from the seat of a bike

The world is more in focus from the seat of a bicycle.

It’s been years since I rode a bicycle for a significant amount of time. Certainly there is no immediate threat for me to join Lance Armstrong on the Tour de France or even consider Ride the Rockies. However, for the past two to three weeks I have found myself choosing transportation of the self-powered, two-wheel variety for travel around town or whenever I don’t have to carry anything too bulky. For

those light loads, I have even broken out the old backpack from my days at the University of Missouri in the 1970s.

Choosing to ride came about for a variety of reasons. My pickup is temporarily out of service and I turned in the vehicle for which I had a long-term lease. My wife would let me use the car, if I took her to work in the morning. Being ready to leave the house at 5:45 a.m., however, never sounds as good in the morning as it might have the night before.

An initial benefit is that riding the bicycle is a great way to lose weight; not that I would know anything about that benefit. Any calories burned are likely lost when I drink my mocha or Mountain Dew. I have also been known to coast most of the way to morning coffee and then throw my bike in the back of a vehicle for the ride back up the hill.

Losing weight, however, was not part of my strategy for taking up the bike. Simply stretching my muscles was part of the plan, however. The day that I tweaked a quadricep muscle when I turned my head while walking on a level parking lot was my wake-up call. I have since been told that at my age and condition, “tweaking a quad” is a remote possibility at best.

Nevertheless, the motion of peddling has had a positive benefit. My legs don’t ache at night and I have been sleeping much, much better. In addition, some of the hills that caused me to dismount and walk have now been conquered. I seek them out now just so I can crest their summit in victory. Again, I am not talking Rabbit Ears Pass, but let it be known that Mt. Kinsey has felt the rubber of my tires racing up its flanks.

Another benefit of riding a bicycle has been the cost savings. With the gas money I have saved in just two weeks, I could have easily purchased a very nice bicycle. Part of the reason for the cost savings is, of course, the fact that a bicycle has no gas tank. The bigger savings come when I find myself thinking twice about taking a trip to the market, restaurant or hardware store. I find myself reasoning that perhaps I don’t really need what I had the urge to go purchase. It is amazing how many times I find that I really could get along with whatever I thought I needed. I then save gas money and the money I would have dropped on that “must-have” item.

In the past year, I haven’t had to commute far to work and my wife and I take one trip a week to Summit County and one trip a month to the Front Range. I didn’t think I was spending that much on fuel. I have to admit that I have been shocked at how much money I have saved. Since I stopped driving, I have read that the gasoline supply nationwide is in pretty good shape and the price of gas has gone from $4 a gallon to about $3.50 a gallon. I think we can all connect the dots.

I mentioned that I have seen the world with a sharper set of lenses since I started riding bike. For starters, a person has to have his senses in tune while riding. Bicyclists are a bit of an aberration for modern day roadways. They are really too slow to share the road with automobiles and trucks. Generally speaking, paths are not available and sidewalks are off limits. That leaves bicyclists with the option of dodging rocks and, occasionally, trash on the shoulder. A person had better have his eyes, ears and even nose engaged while riding.

However, the focus of which I speak has to do with observations of a more abstract variety. Bicycles don’t have radios and, for me, an MP-3 player would be a bad idea. That allows for thought. If I had to list the top-five things which our crowded society sorely lacks, introspective thought would surely be on that list. I believe we are all blessed with the ability to reason and generally come to rational conclusions.

However, many of us turn on the television almost from the time we wake up, we listen to radio or music on the way to work, work consumes our attention for most of the day and then we either go to meetings or unwind by watching more television until we can no longer keep our eyes open. Pretty soon, all of our thoughts are those which other people tell us we should be having. You can bet that is exactly what political candidates count on at the ballot box.

Riding bike has other advantages. You notice things you never noticed before. Some of them, like potholes, trash and dog waste, are unpleasant. Other things you notice are much nicer, like somebody’s well-kept yard, wildflowers in the ditch or the smell of nature. I also found that while riding bike, it is easy to stop and visit with somebody who is walking, working or lounging in their yard. In two weeks, I have visited more people while traveling around town than I would have in two months of driving. I would have waved, I just wouldn’t have stopped to see how they were doing or what they were working on.

One downside to my newfound love of biking is that winter is getting closer. I don’t mind the cold, but icy streets are probably not the best place for me to navigate my way around town. We shall see if I can make the transition to walking.

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