Paving the Beaten Path: My changing relationship with bikes

This might not seem like a big deal, but me and bikes, we haven’t always gotten along… 

They say you gotta pick your poison, well, when a car ran Crockett off the road last year, I decided I would stick to putting my trust in a nine millimeter bundle of thread, not strangers with a driver's license. 

I’ll always remember the way blood dripped in thick clots from the gash on his chin and onto our kitchen floor. While that scar has hardened and still transmits a deep shade of amethyst in the right light, I sometimes catch a glimpse of it under his stubble, and flash back to my own worst memories on a bike: like that time I stumbled blindly toward the guard rail on Lookout Mountain, too dehydrated to function; or the day I went belly-sliding through rough gravel like the Sphinx of Giza. Rookie mistakes, I'm sure, but nonetheless formidable. 

Can you really blame me for clenching the handlebars with whiter knuckles these days? 

Well, this winter, after I attended a Camber Exchange, that all changed. As I hung on every word (and every tear) Lisa Cramton spoke, much to my surprise, my thinking of this silly metal thing shifted. It wasn't a single line or anecdote that got me — no, it was simply the way she talked about bikes. She possessed a kind of spirit that made me feel free even listening. She made me believe that it was still possible to mend my relationship with bikes — that I didn't have to be afraid. 

I know now that it‘s not too late for bikes to bring me the same kind of joy I saw in her.

This weekend I'm riding in my first 100-mile race (if you can call it that). To prepare, I've rode my bike to work every day this week and feasted on veggies and pure stoke. I've nearly been hit by two cars, and I should probably figure out how to change a tube, but hey, I think I'm figuring this out.

That's what this is all really about anyway, right? Learning: uncovering new routes you didn't know existed, understanding how to protect yourself, be efficient and self-sustaining, and push yourself to your limit. Do I think I'm ready? Probably not. But man, am I loving every minute of this new infatuation. 

Lisa, maybe one day I'll stand in front of a room full of awe-inspired outdoorswomen and tell them of the places my bike has taken me…

blogMarley Jeranko