Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Joy of Cycling

The other day, our friends let us try out their “adult cruiser” bicycles. They started biking last year, and frequently spoke of the glories thereof. But we resisted until now, for we two occupants of this household are plagued with bad backs, knees, and whatnots (I throw that in for good measure). Therefore, our reluctance, more mine that Sue’s, was understandable. I had ridden Ally’s bike from time to time in the past few years, and did not find it easy on my back. I hadn’t heard about “adult cruisers” or “comfort bikes” until our friends began preaching of their virtues (the bikes’ virtues not the friends’).

And so it was with some scepticism that we borrowed our friends’ bikes the other day, but our scepticism soon gave way to exaltation. The high, curve-around handle bars let us ride in a straight-back position rather that the usual forward hunch. We pedalled down to The Bay and under the bridge for almost two hours. Backs, knees, and whatnots remained comfortable and in good working order.

Part-way through, Sue proclaimed that she knew what she was going to do that afternoon. “What’s that?” responded I, thinking to hear that she would be recuperating in bed or soaking sore muscles in a hot tub. But, like me, she was feeling so elated that she had already determined that she would be shopping for a bicycle that afternoon. I was forced to concur, for when mama speaks in that voice, papa listens.

Indeed, by mid-afternoon, we had spent the remaining portion of our meagre life-savings (I exaggerate only slightly for the benefit of the narrative) in favour of enjoying the exhilaration of pedal-power. It is now four days later, and we have managed to go riding almost daily for about two hours at a time. That’s pretty darn good for these not-so-fit, somewhat creaky, almost-senior bodies.

When I’m out there biking, I am also back there somewhere — somewhere in time. It seems as though in some way I have pedalled through a forty-five-year time barrier, as though a backward glance could reveal my boyhood best friend wheeling along behind. I am almost in two worlds at once. The present and past get all crinkled up together somehow. Kind of a neat feeling that.

I always liked biking when I was a kid — really, really liked it — but was resigned to those days being long gone. Thankfully, however, that’s one door that I have been able to ride through again. Both Sue and I are having a blast.

Isn’t it great when these somewhat serendipitous things happen? If we didn’t have friends who happened to get adult cruisers and who were willing to let us try them out, we wouldn’t have known, wouldn’t have tried.

We would have been happy still, for happiness comes from within, but we wouldn’t be experiencing this particular joy. Happiness is wonderful, the state of being that we choose (see Sue’s blog), but special joy often creeps up when we are not expecting it. If happiness is the table from which we dine, perhaps joy is the salt that flavours the food.

You can choose to be happy. I have known sick and dying people who have chosen this way of being in the world, and I think I have learned from them. Joy seems to visit sporadically and randomly, but I think that sometimes we can put ourselves in its path. When an option or opportunity presents itself, we can seize the moment, open the door, and walk through. Because nothing is certain in life, I cannot proclaim that joy always awaits us on the other side of the door, but I think it often does.


Butterfly said...

Bravo! I'm glad you guys are having so much fun. Enjoy yourselves!

Alianora said...

I haven't taken a ride on my bicycle for over a year, since I lived in the city. After reading your entry today, I called my mother to see if my bike was still in her gardenshed, in good condition. It is, and I plan to go riding with my sister this evening! What a wonderful idea!

Cuppa said...

Thanks for the great blog. It brings to mind a couple of my favorite quotes

"The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise.
It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us."
Ashley Montague

"There is no such thing as the pursuit of happiness, but there is the discovery of joy." Joyce Grenfell

I hope you discover joy in all sorts of unexpected places as you continue your travels.

Anonymous said...

The cycling sounds great. Could you please explain how an adult cruiser is different from a mountain bike for example - other than the handlebars. I agree with you comments about joyful living.

Anvilcloud said...

Hmmm, I can try to tell how it's different than a mountain bike although I don't of whole lot of knowledge about mountain bikes. The frames seem bigger, or at least it seems like they can be bigger. The seats have padding and springs and seem to be wider. One seems to sit pretty upright. When I have tried other bikes of whatever variety I seemed to have been leaning forward more although I possibly have never tried a mountain bike. There is also somewhat of a difference between an adult cruiser and a comfort bike, I think. We bought the latter. It didn't have the curved-back handlebars, but they were easily adjustable upwards. Ours didn't come with the fenders and chain guards that the adult cruisers have. We borrowed cruisers but bought comfort bikes, perhaps because there were none of the former left in stock anywhere. We originally wanted those curved handlebars but found the comfort bikes to be just as ... well, comfortable, when we tried them.

I'm going to the bike shop tomorrow, so I'll have to ask for more details.