I have about 5 or 6 moments in my life that occurred with bicycles that clearly stick out in my mind. They are specific increments in time involving that are permanently etched in my being - at my core. Everything about the event, every single finite detail - the sounds, the smells, the air temp, the breeze, the sky color, the feelings, what I was wearing, what bike I was on, the pitch of people's voices - I can recall with absolute clarity.
Some of these moments include important accomplishments, to me, while racing. For example, finishing my first 24 hour solo mountain bike race in 2005, riding towards the finish line seated and drooping, and, with the encouragement of friends & fans on the side of the course, and the sun on my mud and sweat stained face, standing up and cranking out the last 30 pedal strokes with determination and purpose.
Another would be in 2009 sitting, no, actually hiding, seeking solitude, still with my helmet and gloves on, in the very tall grass behind the Trek Demo truck at the last race in the series in which I won the overall 12 Hour Solo Expert Championship by 2 points after a tremendously hard season, and crying with pride and joy and happiness and relief.
The 2011 Tour Divide when I found myself, alive, severely injured, laying on the banks of the very frigid Spray River, still in water, looking at the cloud covered sky. Followed by the 2012 Tour Divide, crossing into the US in only 2 days, and speaking with the border guard in the gate structure with the Type 1 child family member who said as he reached out with his hand to shake mine "Aren't you the guy with Type 1 who tried this last year? We have been waiting to meet you".
Others, of equal or greater impact, aren't even racing related.
Like earlier this year going with Diane to go fetch a cheap old tandem with pitted chrome and aged handlebar grips, bringing it back on the subway, and riding it together, for the first time, in the crowded parking lot once we disembarked. Laughing during the whole experience.
Emotional, powerful, soul changing moments.
All of them.
Today, was also one of the those days.
Riding with my sons, aged 7 & 5, down a paved and dirt bike path that was converted from an old railroad bed. Neither of them with training wheels, and both of them pedaling as fast as their legs could move, looking for the remaining small puddles to ride through, and both putting their feet up on the top tubes of their bikes, pretending they where flying. Taking small "shortcuts" into some dirt and rocky single track trails that run parallel to the main line.
We road about 7 miles in 2 hours, and we just all laughed, played, talked, and "raced" during the whole ride.
It was a very magical, life altering day.
For all three of us.
I love bicycles.
I believe in cycling.
I love the power of change they bring, their uncanny ability to alter the course of one's personal history, and their way of brining the masses together for a cause.
Bikes are, after all, primarily, toys.
And they are perfect.
I will remember today's ride with my kids, although it certainly will not be the last, for the rest of my life.