Wednesday, April 20

On a Positive Note...

I've seen some pretty amazing things from the seat of my bike. I bemoan my interactions with the moto-fascists, but I should give an equal or greater share of bandwidth to the positive aspects of cycling.

When I first went to college in Nashville, Tennessee I took my bike and I rode all over the southern half of Nashville, both for recreation and for transportation. I rode through neighborhoods where famous people lived and I rode down Music Row. I really explored a good portion of the southern city and suburbs. Those were my first real experiences riding in traffic and interacting with motorists AS traffic.

A few years later I lived and biked in Dayton, Ohio. I rode all over the city. I loved riding past Carillon Park and seeing the Wright Brothers bike shop replica in the park. There was a cool sculpture there of a cycling form. I keep looking for my lone photo of it, because it doesn't seem as if its still there in Dayton. Can’t seem to find my photo. I'll share when I finally do come across it.

And then I rode around Lexington, Kentucky on my lunch breaks when I worked there in the summer of 2007. I rode all over the core area of the city and I explored the roads through the horse farms to the north of town as well.

In the years before and between my urban stints I explored around my hometown and the surrounding countryside, including the Red River Gorge area of the Daniel Boone National Forest. I had many good days rambling around the valleys doing short steep climbs to rolling ridges punctuated by severe descents, all bounded by precipitous shoulders.

Since moving west my entire outlook, while somehow persisting, has also changed. I've come back to some of my old thought patterns concerning cycling. I've had my time experimenting, and I've refined my approach to cycling down to the essence of what I've discovered in my 30 years of riding a bike.

I would never have guessed that on my morning commute I would roll along the famed Clear Creek and past Coors Brewery. I'm not a drinker, but if I were I guess that would impress me even more. I first cross Clear Creek just a couple of miles upstream of the mouth of Ralston Creek where Lewis Ralston first found gold. Ralston as in Ralston-Purina. If you ever drive along I-70 passing through Denver you'll get to experience Ralston-Purina nasally. I pass by the parking lot at Coors where the starting line scene in American Flyers was filmed. I ride along the same streets the actors rode in the movie. And then I climb up through the historic section of Golden beneath the quiet fa├žade of Mount Zion where one of the most well traveled climbs along the Front Rage, Lookout Mountain Road, winds up from the plains into the foothills. Out of the historic part of town I continue through the Colorado School of Mines campus. I'm not going to go into it in this post, but in my mind Mines has grown in significance over the past year in regards to world events. And just beyond Mines campus I pass by Harmony Village, a development described in the book Affluenza.

My alternate commute, around the east and south sides of South Table Mountain takes me past the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) which continues to show up in a lot of the documentaries I watch on Netflix and people who work there author articles I occasionally read.

I used to ride from Wash Park in Denver. My commute took me right through downtown Denver, past Invesco Field, literally along the base of the wall of the stadium and west into Edgewater and Lakewood. I rode past the performing arts center and the skyscrapers of downtown along the Cherry Creek Trail. I rode through Confluence Park past REI's Denver flagship store. Then when we moved out to Lakewood I rode past Red Rocks, sometimes through the park for an added workout under the magnificent formations that flank the famed amphitheater. And then I'd ride on past the Dakota hogback, Dinosaur Ridge. A short detour would take me past the remarkable fossilized dinosaur footprints along Alameda Parkway.

Living in Golden for a brief four months, then Denver, then Lakewood and now Arvada I've had the opportunities to do morning rides before work and on weekends up canyons and into the foothills and the mountains beyond. I've ridden controversial Deer Creek Canyon, breathtaking Bear Creek Canyon, Mount Vernon Canyon where I-70 climbs toward the Continental Divide, Lookout Mountain, Golden Gate Canyon and I've ridden all over the metro area. Once I even struck out from the plains for the summit of Mount Evans over 9,000 higher. I've detoured up to Genesee on the way to work and seen the snow-capped peaks of the Divide before work.

Riding my bike I have the time to contemplate these things on a daily basis. History and significance have a living part in my mind each day. I'm not saying I wouldn’t recognize these things if I were driving a car, but they would be mere blips outside the windshield. As I crawl past on my bike I see, I ponder, I analyze. Relevance does not escape my observation. I scheme, I plan, I dream as I pedal where I need to go and I long to ride beyond the paths of necessity. And in my life I've recognized and seized those golden opportunities as often as possible. Life is grand. Life on the seat of a bike is supremely grand.

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