JFK once said, “nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.” He’s right, and I am on a really long bike ride.
For some reason, I’ve been struck by this lately. It’s all just a simple – and simply beautiful – bike ride.
Being in Kansas in the middle of the summer is both tough and perfect. Wake up as early as the sun to get in some miles before the heat. Pedal in a world of green, yellow, and brown. A flat world of long horizons and sudden illusions. The towns are literal oases that float up as if they were right in front of me, yet as soon as they appear, they haunt me. They are in reality miles and miles away. When I finally get there, it’s time for something cold to drink. Where my body used to crave Snickers bars it now craves juice, pop, slushies, and any cold sugary drink. To a cyclist, gas stations in Kansas – with their dollar-and-a-half 52 oz. fountain drinks – are unbeatable! After drinks, it’s time for the city pool (free to cyclists!) for a cool-off, a break, a nap in the shade, and a shower.
In the early evening, as the heat slowly backs off, it’s time for a few more miles before setting up camp in the close-cropped grass of another small-town city park. The sky is now dark and clear and the stars are there with the moon. I lay on the top bench of the ballfield bleachers, stretched across the peeling white paint, and call Maria, wishing she were here. The cicadas wail. The breeze is now welcome. I am immensely happy.