04 April 2007
As I bumped through the alley and onto the street I waited to feel the almost imperceptible click of my cleats as shoes connected with peddles. I skimmed down the hill and headed toward the park. An easy warm up, with my sights set on exploring a new neighborhood today.
In Salt Lake City I lived on the edge of the Avenues. I could hop on my bike, roll down the driveway onto A Street, turn the corner onto Third Avenue, and in less than a minute be at the entrance of Memory Grove to begin the climb up City Creek Canyon.
My favorite city ride followed Eleventh Avenue east along the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, a panoramic view of the valley stretching out around me as I passed above the rolling hills of the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Most evenings, I timed my arrival at Popperton Park to coincide with the waning daylight. I would pause to rest and watch while the valley was blanketed in twilight hues as the sun slipped over the edge of the Great Salt Lake and behind the Oquirrah Mountains.
When I moved to Salem it was a daunting task to reconstruct my social network, my professional network, and my day-to-day life in a new locale.
I had a lot of empty afternoons. So as an anecdote I would hop on my bike three or four times a week. It was how I familiarized myself with my new surroundings. I began to piece together the patchwork of incongruent side streets of suburban Salem – discovering a pocket park on a hilltop or a hidden path between houses connecting one neighborhood with another. In time, I cobbled together a route that never required me to ride on a main thoroughfare.
That fall I moved to another neighborhood in Salem. I put my bike in the basement. And I stopped going out. For two years.
I lost that tactile connection with the earth and the air. That feeling of being propelled forward by my own power, my only limitation the strength of my lungs and my feeble knees.
Last summer, I finally ventured out on a few short rides near my house. And today it became easier still to reclaim the link between movement and reward – the satisfaction of a tired body but invigorated spirit.
So today I went out. On my bike. With the cool breeze against my skin, in search of new adventures.