Sweat streams down his face, burning his eyes, as he pedals up the steep incline. Not far to go, he thinks. His pulse pounds in his chest. His lungs pump with everything they have. Finally, he seizes the hill. Steady coasting now. He pushes his bike forward and soars downhill.
A cut-out at the edge of the forest calls him. He enters.
The singletrack cuts into the hillside, up and around large oaks leading down to a stream. A flicker in the bush a hundred yards off catches the man’s eye. He abandons the momentum that has taken him this deep under the canopy and creeps closer, quietly.
A mother deer and her two young fawns feed on the leaves of low hanging branches. They are unaware of him from this distance. Close by, a squirrel plucks a white mushroom from its base in the soil, holds it upright, turns it for further inspection, and begins munching.
The man wipes his forehead, positions himself back onto the center of his saddle, and quietly leaves.
Rediscovering the forgotten joy of biking
As much as I enjoy running, it always feels like exercise. While I’m in the process of doing it, when I’m done, heck, even lacing up my shoes before I leave — I know I’m about to get a workout in.
Riding a bike, on the other hand, carries a different feeling: a childlike feeling — one of pure adventure.
I’m Mikey and the rest of the Goonies blasting down the streets of Astoria leaving behind the older brother they just tied to a chair in the living room.
I’m a 1988 version of myself, zipping around the basketball court in Phenix with my friends Jeremiah, Robbie, Kevin, Brandon, and Jay. We’re NASCAR drivers. This is our track. Around the turns we go. A blowout in turn three!
Exercise Jeff, I am not.
Riding a bike for improved cardiovascular health Jeff, not him either.
I’m Jeffro the Gigantic Kid.
A big kid with a smattering of gray in his beard, of course, but a kid nonetheless. Sometimes I’m solo when I make this transformation, but often I complete my metamorphosis with my two young kids in tow as we skirt our way along mud and dirt trails, our shocks embracing stones big and small, in the forest.
It’s not a judgment, more an observation, but why more parents don’t get on bikes with their kids and blaze trails through the woods is beyond me.
It’s the singular definition of fun.
It sure beats dragging your kid to department store runs as time spent together.
There’s a way out from the mundane
Thirty years ago, if you had told me the average American would spend over three and a half hours each day staring at their phone, I would have said you’re crazy.
Tell me you wouldn’t have thought the same.
Yet here we are.
And that’s why I’m not a fortune teller or technologist.
I’m not saying smartphones or screens are all bad. But over three and a half hours a day — on your phone?
And that’s lowballing the figure, as recent studies put the number at 4-6 hours per day for adults and 7-10 hours per day for teenagers.
So let’s say it’s only 3.5 hours. Multiply that by 7 and in a week’s time, that’s more than a full day on a phone. Teens are spending two full days a week staring at their phones.
Sure it’s a tiny pocket computer really but I’m not even referencing additional screen time like laptops and televisions.
Modern life wants us to remain stagnant: sit around, not do much of anything physically exerting, gain excess weight, pump our bodies full of stress hormones from all the divisiveness and nihilist propaganda from the left and right sides of the political spectrum.
Then take a pill to counteract the sitting around and not doing anything and being stressed the hell out.
There’s a way out, though.
It involves tapping into the simple joys of being a kid.
Exploring the world with boundless enthusiasm and wonder.
On two wheels.
Once I hop on my bike and venture into the wilderness, it’s like I’ve unlocked a secret passage to forgotten youth.
As the tires crunch underfoot, I find myself transported back to those carefree days when the only limits were the boundaries of my imagination.
The forest becomes another dimension in an otherwise monotonous world.
Embracing nature one pedal at a time
An indescribable sense of peace surrounds me as I pedal deeper into the heart of nature. The dense canopy of trees shields me from the outside world, creating a sanctuary where the only sounds are the rustling leaves, the babbling brook, and the rhythmic cadence of my bike.
It’s a welcome respite from the relentless distractedness of modern times — a chance to reconnect with the natural world and rediscover the beauty that goes unnoticed in our daily rush through life.
Connecting with your children
Watching my kids’ eyes light up as we venture into the woods on two wheels together brings immeasurable joy to me. Behind my handlebars, I observe as they become explorers, adventurers, and nature enthusiasts right before my eyes.
Together, we learn to navigate the twists and turns of the forest trail, conquering challenges and climbs big and small. We celebrate the victories with a high five after each ride.
Give me some skin.
While it may not be at the forefront of their minds, I know that these shared experiences create memories that last a lifetime and strengthen our bond as a family.
Reconnecting with your own inner child
In a world that often forces us to grow up too quickly, hopping on a bike can be a powerful reminder of the child within us all. It’s a reminder that life doesn’t always need to be serious and structured. There’s joy to be found in embracing our playful side, the kid buried deep within our soul.
Riding your bike again after years away, I promise you this: it makes the world seem a little brighter and your heart feel a little lighter.
To all the parents out there with a bike sitting somewhere collecting dust and rust, I urge you to dust off and de-rust that bad boy. If you don’t have a bike, consider getting one. Take a ride with your kiddos. Make an adventure out of thin air.
Relive the thrill of childhood and create new memories with your own children.
Trade the couch for the trail.
The smartphone for the sound of nature.
The rush of daily life for the thrill of rediscovering your inner child.
Pedal into the unknown and embrace a newfound freedom.
Away you go!
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