When my grandpa first taught me to a ride a bike, he could not have known just how far two wheels would take me. My current bike may not have a pink banana seat, but to this day - close to three decades later - I still experience the same liberation and supreme sense of mischief as I did on that first blazing, Las Vegas afternoon.
For many, many naive years I didn't own a bike nor did riding a bicycle ever cross my mind. As an American teen, I moved on from two wheels to four, traded the white noise of wind streaming past a bike helmet for tinny car stereo speakers, and opted for costly trips to the gas station over bargain visits to the bike shop for tire tubes.
It was that all-consuming monster of stress that unexpectedly led me back to two-wheeled life as an adult. I had begun a fledgling post-college career like a real grown-up but was not handling the pressure well and it started to manifest in my health. How fun is a colonoscopy? I was one 20-something that could tell you 'not much' as my doctor ran me through a barrage of such tests to determine the cause of my chronic stomach pains. Headaches, insomnia, you name it. I was a classic stress ball.
About that same time, on a fortuitous whim, I purchased a Giant entry-level road bike and that little investment changed my life. After a year of riding, my health was exceptional and the world had a new shine. The work-life balance I desperately needed came naturally as I became more and more invested in the fun and friends I found when I was out on that little bike. So, as any cyclist will attest to, another word soon entered my vocabulary: upgrade!
From the time I saw that Cervélo in the bike shop, I was smitten. I test rode other bikes but as soon as I clipped in to the S-series, I knew it was the one. When I passed another Cervélo rider on that inaugural ride, I asked him how he liked his bike. His dark-haired, accented verbatim reply: "Is like magic carpet, yes?!" A magic carpet? Sounds good to me! I was gone a long time on that test ride and the bike shop called me, panicked that I had stolen the bike. I promised I would be buying it as soon as I returned but I was having too much fun to come back just yet.
Four years later and I've put over 11,000 miles on that bike. It traveled with me to Europe last month where together, we ascended a beast of a mountain in Austria named the Grossglockner. Thirteen kilometers and sustained 11-16% grades? No problem for me and my Cervélo. Rain, hail, snow, miles and miles of loose gravel, perfect sunrises, 50 mph descents, confidence, cookies, headwinds - oh, so many headwinds - tailwinds, smaller-sized jeans, new friends, old friends, crash scars, record climbs up Colorado mountains, the courage to finally pursue a career practicing medicine... all in the four years since purchasing my bike.
Riding a bike has a way of putting everything into perspective for me. It reminds me of what's important in life and confirms the things I can let go. It gives me a sense of accomplishment while also keeping me humble. It rekindles that childish glee I experienced from the first time the training wheels came off and inspires a renewed sense of adventure. Every day the real world reminds me that I'm getting older but from the moment I clip in, I'm as young as I want to be.