Thursday, August 16, 2012

Going Home

I’m gonna hijack the beginning of this post to take care of some business.  It came to my attention recently that the comment button down at the bottom of Off the Rivet posts was broken.  I sent a small team of gnomes into the internet tubes to address the problem.  I just got word that the comment button has been fixed and only a couple of the gnomes were seriously disfigured in the process.  All in all, a fair price for a working comment button.  So comment away.  I really love hearing from my readers, so don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on the topics or how I’m doing—or even my grammar if you are so inclined.  I am already aware, however, of my gratuitous overuse of the Em dash—so leave that criticism out of the comments please.  Finally, if for some reason the comment thing at the bottom of the post still doesn’t work, then send me an email at and I will do my best to rectify the situation.  Happy reading!

Working in retail doesn’t afford me much time for vacations, but last week I was lucky enough to get some time to travel back to Michigan, where I spent the first 22 years of my life, to see my family and meet my new nephew, Levi.  After driving ten hours across the entirety of Pennsylvania, most of Ohio, and a couple hours in Michigan for good measure, I was able to relax into the couch in the house where I spent my formative years. 

Found on:

I made a point, when I had a moment to spare from the chaos that is “going home” for what can only loosely be described as a “vacation,” to snoop into our shed behind our house.  Trips home, for me anyway, are always laced with nostalgia, and our shed had no shortage of items that all seemed to be the quintessential synecdoche for my childhood.  I used to spend a lot of time here.  Haphazardly fixing my own bike, or helping my dad work on our family’s many motorcycles—this is where I cut my mechanical teeth.  Rebuilding whatever needed rebuilding, my dad showed my older brother and me how to turn a wrench.  The tools are waiting for my brother and I to embark upon our next project—which is difficult considering the 750 miles that exist between our daily lives.  My dad, having passed in 2006, seemed like the one who always finalized the plans for our riding trips, and the rest of us having grown up and moved out in the mean time—life always intervening, as it is wont to do—the motorcycles haven’t been used much lately.

I took a minute, while my mom and wife were out, to take a spin around the block on my old bike.  I rode a 20” bike for far longer than most people do, and it felt great to take a quick ride on it again.  When I was a kid, we would go out and ride all day, our only curfew being determined by the sun, which sets well into the 10 o’clock hour during the mild Michigan summer.  To a kid, a bicycle equals freedom; freedom to explore a world that was never accessible before. 

My short jaunt on my old street bike made me think about why I ride now.  In many ways, that sense of freedom is still there.  Cycling gives me a space to disconnect from my adult life, while reconnecting to a kid inside, who is still just trying to beat the sun.  Cycling is a space I can live in, if only for a moment, forgetting anything and everything.  Isn’t that what being a kid is?  Isn’t that why we always feel nostalgic for our childhood?  Truly living in the moment, without a thought of our adult selves. 

I know that people ride for different reasons, some for races, others for fitness, maybe some just to impress their friends.  But I also think there is a kid inside all of us that really gets a kick out of riding a bike.  It is more than just fitness.  It is more than just winning a race. 

So many people live their lives having only ridden a bike during their childhood.  But we few, we happy few, we happy band of cycling brothers—to quote a decent writer—get to experience the joys of cycling into our adult lives.  People who have found cycling, or running, or swimming, whatever your sport may be, have the privilege to live outside of their real lives for moments in life. 

This escape is something that I cherish.  It is something I really look forward to every time I throw a leg over my bike.  Not because my life is something that I need to get away from, but rather that child-like freedom is something I want to keep coming back to, to remind myself what it is like to be a kid again.  On your next ride or run, don’t try for a personal best; don’t worry about your lap times, or your training schedule.  Forget about all that, and just try to beat the sun.  

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