My best thinking

Like many, I got my first bike as a young boy, a bright red coaster from my maternal grandfather. Although I had bikes throughout my high school and college years, I really didn’t start riding until my early 20’s when, as a result of a physical examination for a new job, I was advised to lose 25 pounds or suffer serious consequences in later life.  This doctor pulled no punches.  Years of sedentary college life left me overweight with high blood pressure.  I reclaimed an old 5-speed from my godfather’s garage and began riding in the evenings to visit my girl friend.  She owned horses and kept them at a stable on the outskirts of the city.  It was an hour ride in each direction.  I made the trip several times a week and, over the course of the summer, lost a lot of weight, became more energetic and began a lifelong adventure of riding, exploration and inspiration.

My next bike was a 10-speed racer from Canadian Tire, a step up from the reclaimed 5-speed.  I began riding more frequently and longer distances.  I also began commuting to the University where I taught and, in the evenings, explored Toronto’s many ethnic and beach communities.  I would even ride to the family cottage, a 100 mile trip each way.  I remember this was an 8 hour uphill pedal there and a relaxing 6 hour descent back.  Next, I progressed to an English made Dawes touring bike, more suited to the distance riding I enjoyed.  When it was stolen, I purchased a handmade touring frame and built it up with the best Campagnola and Cinelli parts I could afford at the time.  This bike was never left unattended and occupied its own bedroom in my flat.  Originally built for touring – throughout southern Ontario, parts of Quebec, BC and England – it has been adapted over the years as my interests and time available changed.  At one point, when my children were young and time limited, I built a set of light weight wheels with tubular ties and used it mostly for training.  Today, it has been fully restored with the original hubs, rims, changers and brakes and I use it as a city bike for commuting, errands and regular training rides.  I also have a hard tail mountain bike but the Roberts’ remains my favourite ride.

The more I ride, the more I want to ride.  I am not fast.  I never was.  But I enjoy being on the bike exploring and challenging myself to longer distances and steeper climbs.  For 50 years I have enjoyed riding and plan to continue as long as possible.  Riding gives me a wonderful sense of freedom, the ability to go where I want, when I want.  There are no traffic jams.  No congestion.  No waiting.  You keep moving, exploring new routes and talking with like minded riders along the way.  I frequently whistle when riding.  I don’t do it consciously but catch myself breaking into a familiar tune, particularly on warm, sunny rides.  It is a throwback to childhood years, a time before obligations, responsibilities, careers and families, a time when we lived to play.  And that is what riding is.  It’s play.  Sure it is also a means of transport, a political statement and a form of exercise.  But mostly, it’s unadulterated play, no matter the age.

I do my best thinking on my bike.


2 thoughts on “My best thinking

  1. Pingback: My Ride – 2011 Louis Garneau Gennix R2 | PedalWorks

  2. Pingback: Stanley Park Ride | PedalWorks

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