Sunday, June 5, 2011

starting small for big reasons

Welcome to the first edition of a chronicle of my and others' lives on two wheels.  This blog is about all things bike.  Specifically, as its title suggests, this blog is about bike face.

So, what is bike face? The concept was originally coined by two very dear friends, Lisa and Greg. I'm not exactly sure how long ago they had begun to use the term, but I learned firsthand about bike face during one of our very first trail rides together. (I think it was 2006.)

After sharing a few stories of our riding experiences, we decided to meet at the local MTB trail we each loved, but had never ridden together. The single track trail meant that we had to ride in single file. So Greg took the lead position, I followed, Lisa rode last. About half way along the trail, we rode a section that runs gradually downhill, then dips steeply into a ravine and then up and out again onto a glacial moraine. The trail is a mix of sand and rock and is not too technical; however, it often develops sections especially after rainstorms that can become challenging, and riders have to stay alert. I tackled this section of the trail feeling as if I had just ridden a roller coaster. Picking up speed, I caught air over bumps that had developed in the trail. Hardly pedaling, I flew up and over the next few rollers. My ride felt effortless, thrilling, and I could tell I was smiling. I may have even been giggling.

Ahead, through an opening in the dense section of woods, I saw Greg, waiting at the next intersection. I knew Lisa would not be too far behind, so as soon as I stopped, standing next to Greg, I looked back to watch for her. Within a few moments, she appeared out of the thick section of woods, flying up the last hill, stopping quickly in front of us. Lisa's face described her ride. It was a look of thrill and happiness, of pure bliss. This was the first time I saw bike face. And I felt it too. For several moments, we stood in the middle of the woods, panting, sweating, laughing, (ignoring the mosquitoes) recalling each of our respective rides down what Greg and Lisa had named Bike Face Hill. I learned then that bike face was a thing worth noting.

Since that first ride together, each of our riding lives have expanded: mine to our local JDRF team, and Greg and Lisa's to local MTB endurance races. In all of our experiences, we have found that bike face appears nearly everywhere. And we talk about all of those moments, often.

And so, we named the phenomenon "bike face" to describe any bike-induced look of joy or peace or pleasure or thrill. Or simply, happiness.  I have come to understand it as the perfect manifestation of grace (more on that in another post).

But this blog is not only about where and when bike face happens. It is about why it happens.  It is how cycling, and the incredible community that accompanies it, creates bike face. It is how my life is better on all fronts because of that little yellow Schwinn single-speed my father gave me when I was 8 years old, and the grown up red bike (a Cannondale) I ride today. It is about how my life is more fulfilling when I am on the bike. It is about how (and who) I want to be when I'm 70, 80, and 90 years old.

Needless to say, bike face is a state of mind, a way of life. This is how I choose to live. More importantly, I hope to help others find their own bike face moments. And in that spirit, I hope that readers will share their own stories of bike face with me, that together we can build an archive that can inspire others.