For some riders, 4,000 miles is not alot. For me, it’s no joke, and a milestone worth noting. I’ve had Sophie the Fairdale Weekender Archer bicycle for two years this month, actually. But to reach 10,000 miles on my lighter Fuji Silhouette bike named Sookie (on whom I finally pedaled almost 13,000 miles before she developed a fatal crack in her fragile aluminum frame), I gave the steel commuter and light touring bike a rest for seven months. The other day I was asking about getting new disc brake pads, and it turns out that after a while of frequent braking, they wear out. Well, that’s because I’m riding her all the time now that Sookie has been forced into retirement. Nothing lasts forever. But while the ride still lasts, it’s important to acknowledge the accomplishments and share them with you.
I Have Biked for Miles and Miles and Miles…
The distance is about across the US, depending where you measure, andd then some. But the miles are just part of it. There’s also elevation, speed, or lack thereof, and time. Most of all, the experience. Today I was riding back from another Bike Austin meeting when I reached a relatively flat section. Despite the road being a bit wet, and feeling as if my back tire had a slow leak in it, and after another rest day but being short on sleep, my legs felt pretty good. Sophie and I were cruising along at a decent clip. And I just realized I was enjoying myself. That’s an important part of biking, or any activity, but one I forget about sometimes.
Still, the distance feels important for some reason, even though it probably isn’t. If you say it like it is a big deal though, it is a big deal. That’s because it’s 3,939 miles from Austin to Reykjavik, Iceland. Or over 4,000 for a ride to the North Pole, or the equator and back. I still don’t get why I try to ride as many miles as is reasonable in a year, but I do. It’s not contributing to weight loss, I can tell you that. But when I reach a daily, weekly or monthly goal, it’s gratifying. Maybe it’s as simple as that, and anything more just complicates it. It’s a man and his machine, alone against gravity, the tortoise and the hare, revolution after revolution.
What Does 4,000 Really Mean?
The effort, for one who is a fathlete, with challenges, and a heavier steel frame bike, is significant. It’s hard to convey the feeling unless you’ve been in my shoes. (Or maybe just wear your own, man, because that would be weird if you were wearing mine.) If you bike, you know that time and toil add up. If you don’t, you may not relate. People tell me when it comes up things like “Whoa! That’s a ton of miles!” It is. A ton. A metric shit ton, to be exact.
I ride when it’s cold, wet, windy or all the above. When I’m bone-tired but still have to get somewhere. For trips that I need or want to make and are worth it to not have a car because I’m exercising. At one level, it really just means that I’m a dude riding his bike because he does not have a car. And maybe it’s a metaphor for my life, powering myself along, trying to stay alive, but also contributing to a safer, healthier planet. It may also be that the bike is a conveyance that is elegant, simple, and stands the test of time.
Particularly with Sophie, with her nine gears and smooth ride, there is a feeling of riding that is like flying. She just gets humming along on a flat stretch of road, and I’m pedaling hard, breathing heavy, struggling up hills, hauling groceries, sweating in my winter clothes, and experience all manner of aches and pains. And yet, returning home and logging my ride, I find that if all is not right with the world, it’s alot better than it was when I wasn’t biking. There’s just a satisfaction that comes with actually doing things.
So regardless of mileage, the riding is a gift. Who knows how long I can keep it up? We’ll see. If a dog is man’s best friend, then a bike is a close second. And you can’t put a price or a number on that. Read my other blogs about Sophie here:
Sookie the Fuji, my first love, and Sophie the Fairdale, the new flame
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