The little things in life are best enjoyed from a bike
You never know how much you’re going to miss something until you don’t have it anymore.Things like … your sanity. Or green leaves on aspen trees. Or, in my case, my car.My dependable little Subaru decided to bite the big one a month ago. I should have seen it coming. First the engine started making grinding noises. Then, the dummy lights flickered on – a problem I remedied with a little electrical tape. But the smoke coming out of the engine compartment finally grew so heavy that even diesel trucks were pulling over because they couldn’t see the road. I had to break down and admit I had a problem.I shopped around to find the cheapest engine in the state – which of course, with all the accouterments needed to keep the engine attached to the body of the car, made it the most expensive car repair known to mankind.But that wasn’t the hardest part to swallow.The hardest part was getting in shape so I could ride my bike from Breckenridge to Frisco every day. The last time I’d ridden my bike 10 miles had to have been in 1996 when I didn’t own a car. I was in shape. Buff. Trim. Ready to tackle the road.
Not this go-round.I felt like I’d died three times – first of hypothermia, then respiratory failure, then a heart attack – the first time I made the trip to Frisco. To prevent this suffering, I’d try to catch the Stage home. But more often than not, I was pre-emptively kicked off the bus because there were already four bicycles hanging from the rack, and subsequent bicycles are not allowed onboard.But I got over it, although my friends say they’re still sick of hearing about my pounding heart, pouring sweat and stiff muscles. Within a week, those ailments subsided, leaving me no excuse to enjoy my rides around town and to and from work.I actually got to enjoy it.The favorite part of my trips was the scenery, even though some of the areas through which I had to ride are riddled with pine beetle-killed trees.I noticed little purple flowers growing alongside the trail. A hummingbird apparently mistook my red sweater for a flower one day; I almost ate the bird for lunch.I practiced dodging jumping crickets along the bike path west of the high school – and dogs in Carter Park.I could take the time to glance down alleys or driveways and see kids playing a game of pick-up basketball – or in the woods pelting each other with paintballs.
The sky is much more blue than it is when you’re behind the wheel of a car.The wind coming off the lake is chilly – some days, biting – but refreshing, especially when it’s in your hair and at your back.When you’re on the seat of a bicycle, you get to smell the day: the pine trees, coffee brewing, burgers on the grill.People wave to you – and sometimes they’re not yelling at you to get off their lawn.There’s no music, so you get to hear the sound of the Summit County bird, the Construction Crane.You get to feel superior when you pass others on the trail – and pretend you’re merely enjoying the ride when others pass you at Mach II.You get to unwind from a day of work, plan for the ski season and wonder just how long it can take someone to replace a car engine.
You learn all about planning, because if you’re at Silver Shekel when you realize you forgot your wallet, there’s generally not enough time to retrieve it. It takes 45 minutes to get between towns, and your friends aren’t willing to wait too long if you’re late.You learn how to pack a backpack – lightly and evenly.Three weeks of this, and I finally got my car back. It, too, came with a heart attack and respiratory failure, but that was mostly due to the reconstruction bill.And now that I’m buff and trim and ready to tackle the roads again, I’m not so sure I want to use my car to get back and forth to work.Yeah, right. Who am I kidding? I’m enjoying the sound of a new engine purring.See ya on the roads.Jane Stebbins writes a Wednesday column. She can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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