I thrive off of consistency. Not much feels better than succeeding in a repeatable, steady fashion, and when I can do that, life is good. At the ripe age of four years old, I couldn’t figure out how to ride a bike with any consistency. After a few weeks of effort, I ended up crashing into a tree. The bike was fine, and so was I, but my ego was bruised beyond belief. I swore off that candy apple red mountain bike, leaving it for dead in my family’s garage in Sacramento, CA.
Fast forward six years, and soon thoughts of that old bicycle I had left for dead crept back into my life. Sure, I resolved at a young age to stay away from anything pedal-powered, but I was sick of asking my parents for rides to my friend’s house. Walking places was for squares (according to ten year old me), and taking a bus was out of my realm of understanding. Thanksgiving Day, I found myself with a bit of free time in the morning, as well as a newfound resolve (and greater physical coordination) to get back on the bike.
An hour later and I had riding nailed to a science. Riding (slowly) off a curb? No big deal. Sweet skids on some gravel to impress my friends? I probably could’ve taught a downhill specialist a thing or two. Riding with no hands was to come later. Most importantly, riding to the local grocery store to sneak Hot Cheetos (which was banned in my house at the time) was firmly within my grasp. Life was good.
Two years later, I got my first road bike: a 1985 Bridgestone 500. Deep pearl lilac paint. Gold Araya rims. A full Suntour Cyclone group with friction shifting. A period-correct sheepskin saddle cover. The bike had it all, and nobody could tell me it wasn’t cooler than a stupid carbon fiber bike. As I was won to do, I had it fixed up with my own money, cleaned it up, and together we went on our first Thanksgiving Day ride. This became my longest ride yet: 45 miles round trip down the Sacramento Bike Path to Folsom Lake and back home. From that point on, I was hooked on cycling. It may have started raining the last ten miles of the ride, but nothing could stop me. I could go anywhere, at any time, on my own. Life was good.
For the next seven years, I made sure to go on some sort of ride. Sometimes it would have to be right at dawn, especially if I was to help cook. At 21 years old, I was in Italy serving an LDS mission. Italy is awesome, but on Thanksgiving Day something felt off. I wasn’t as happy as I had been in years prior. I went about my business and had a great time with friends, but something was amiss, and life was just okay.
What was it? I hadn’t gone on a bike ride.
Things have changed since I first got on a bike. I’ve matured. Growing (patchy) facial hair is easier than before. Now, when I go to the grocery store, my kryptonite of choice is a cold bottle of kombucha and not Hot Cheetos. Twelve year old me would’ve looked at my carbon fiber road bike and immediately dismissed it as stupid and lacking the purity of the Bridgestone. Thanksgiving Day isn’t always in the reassuring expanse of Sacramento, but I make sure that at least a little bit of it is spent on a bicycle.
It’s crazy how much we rely on constants in life. I avoid generalizations when possible, but I am absolutely fulfilled when I can repeat the same positive results. Going out for a yearly Thanksgiving bike ride, whether it’s a quick ride at dawn so I have time to do everything else or a long appetite-enhancing ride, is a constant that reminds me that life is good.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!