Some months back I had a birthday that struck me as a bit … substantial. I was tempted to search out my birth certificate just to be sure. The number was right, however, and I decided that I would not go gentle into that good night (thank you, Dylan Thomas). I was going to take a definite stand against the march of time.
I resolved to renew an interest in cycling — a most noble pastime that I’d abandoned some years back — and with the aid of a new bike optimistically provided by a supportive family, I sped out onto the highways and byways of Oceanside.
Some of the things I have learned include:
• The majority of motorists are thoughtful and courteous in responding to cyclists, and a few are not so charitable. God bless them all. I need to be vigilant, but not paranoid.
• It is an all-weather activity and even riding in the rain has its charms.
• Cycling is solitary sport that permits time to think and reflect on all manner of things. It is you, your bike, and your environment.
• On the other hand, joining together with other cyclists has all sorts of benefits. Riding together encourages and there are always tips and tricks to learn and pass on.
• Riding without a light at night without a light is utterly idiotic. Who knew that deer didn’t have something better to do than stroll down roads? You really need a light.
• All ages can play, but different ages and abilities might need to play a bit differently (A slight aside: there is a notable comradeship amongst cyclists. A good many wave as they pass each other, though there are some who seem to be so focused on the task that you might wonder if they are actually enjoying themselves. I also have a nagging suspicion that some of my younger kin wave at me because they are in the “still” position. By that I mean, “Isn’t it amazing that he can still cycle at his age?” But maybe I’m being overly sensitive).
• The rules of the road are applicable to people on bikes, too. They are not there to oppress or suck the fun out of the ride. They are there to sustain my life and the lives of others.
• Stopping can be difficult. You lose momentum when signs, lights, and traffic eventually demand stopping. This can be especially challenging if your feet are “clipped in” to the pedals, though it seems that some experienced cyclists learn to stop and balance their bikes without having to put their feet on the ground. I admit to suffering from a small amount of balancing envy.
On the other hand, sitting still on a bike really isn’t the point, is it? Cycling is about moving forward.
Come to think of it, cycling is pretty much like faith.
Rev. Phil Spencer is a pastor at St. Stephen’s United Church, Qualicum Beach