I had to go to the bank after work today and so I got on my trusty old Specialized Hardrock, and headed down the hill into downtown Ogden. I took the street because it’s fast and all downhill. I topped out at about 32 mph without really even trying. Anything north of 30 mph is good times in my stilted world, so I was in heaven. I arrived downtown with the wind blowing in what’s left of my hair in less than five minutes…a new personal best.
Let me back up a bit. I guess “had to go to the bank” isn’t quite right. I probably could have done everything I needed to do online, but I’d rather pay with a check than an app. It’s about the people who work there. I like them. They’re pleasant and treat me as if I’m important. Lots of businesses have been co-opted by big interests, but the community bank is still a very special place.
I finished my banking and decided to take the long way home. If it took an extra ten minutes, so what? I’d still get home in plenty of time for supper, especially since I’m out here alone this week and I’ll be doing the cooking.
So I left the bank and headed up Grant Avenue to the Ogden River Parkway. Truth be told, I like riding in the unprotected bike lane on busy, six lane Washington Boulevard every bit as much as I do Grant, but the city gave me these state of the art uber-sexy protected bike lanes and I feel like I ought to use them as a way of saying thank you.
So I do. I turned off of Grant and onto the Parkway and took it all the way to the mouth of Ogden Canyon. The Parkway is more rustic than anything, but you can tell it was designed by people who actually use it. There are no major road crossings. You tunnel under Washington, Monroe and Harrison. Sweet. Sure, it’s a little out of the way, but there’s a method to my madness. Here, check it out…
That’s the Birdsong Trail. It starts where the Parkway ends. The Birdsong Trail and I are going to become very good friends. It goes from the canyon floor to the top of Ogden’s East Bench and empties onto Fillmore Street less than two blocks from and slightly above my house. I actually figured out a way to go downhill on the way home, which means I climb more this way than I would if I just took the street, but for some reason this doesn’t feel like climbing. My legs don’t seem to burn as much. There’s a little exposure that tends to make things exhilarating and I feel like Mr. Mountain Biker and maybe for an instant I’m doing a little shredding…but then again, maybe not. It doesn’t matter. It’s good either way.
So I’m climbing and I can see downtown in the distance. Ben Lomond is behind me and Mount Ogden is to the left. I find myself thinking this can’t be my life. Only other people get to live this way…not me. This is only a dream. Pinch me.
Thank you. This is my life…now. It wasn’t always. This is the bike life. I chose it. No, wait, that’s not right. It chose me. Thank goodness, too. It beats my old stop-and-go-interstate-highway life by a country mile. In that life, I’d arrive home tired and frustrated, probably too tired to work out…
Isn’t that ironic…don’t you think? Now when I get home I don’t have to work out. I already have. It didn’t feel like a workout but it was. Not only have I worked out, I’ve also gotten in a little Mountain Time. Mountain Time is the cure to just about every ailment known to mankind. It makes us healthier physically and mentally. In my perfect world, you wouldn’t have to buy health insurance as long as you regularly engaged in a little Mountain Time, but I digress.
Effective immediately, I’m all about the long way home. If you have to sit in traffic on Interstate Whatever, I’m sorry. My wish for you is that you’ll find a way to change your circumstances. Maybe you can’t get to the mountains right away, but you can get a bike for next to nothing and let the bike life choose you just like it chose me. I really hope you do, because life is better on a bicycle. Seriously better. It’s not even close.