My fiirst full day in Sapphire, NC was wet and cold. I got in the car with my friend and went to work with here, my bike in the trunk of the car. It was cold and wet that afternoon as I rode back to her house. When she passed me and told me to get in the car, I had no objection. And then…….
Weather is Ready for the Bike
The next day we had the same arrangement in the morning but around noon it started to clear up. The sun broke through and the temperature spiked 20 degrees within a few hours. I got on the bike and started exploring.
The first little dirt road I found, I took. What did I find?
A little stream that crept alongside the road and led to a picturesque lake at the back guarded by big bare mountains with straight sheer cliffs that would make a serious rocker climber lick their lips. They were stunning.
I followed the trail around and found a summer camp that was situated in the back, full of cabins and piers that extended out over the lake just waiting for hundreds of eager children to dance on the planks this summer awaiting a canoe or kayak.
In the back was a waterfall. I asked an older couple that was walking the trail how to get down to the waterfall. They had no idea, so I found the way myself. After I relaxed and let the sound of the falls wash away any bad thoughts that may have been lingering their way in my head, I got back on the trail.
The back half of the trail was worthy of a good mountain bike ride. A pro would scoff at it, but to someone like me it was thrill worthy. There were multiple little streams that ran across the path on the quarter mile strip that ran along the back of the lake.
The first time down on the track, I took my time. I had my computer in my backpack tied to the back pannier rack. I got to the end, united it, and hung it from the tree. I headed back up the dirt track, hit the brakes and spun around, thowing it the bike into the lowest gear on my first few rotations back down. I had a smile on my face and dirt in my teeth. I was loving it.
I got back to my bag a happy camper.
I hit the pavement again looking back over my shoulders a little reluctantly, but looking for another adventure.
I pedaled a few more miles until I was thirsty. I usually might pull out my bottle and have a drink mid-stride, but as I was coming around a corner there was another stream below me, so I decided to stop and enjoy the view. After quenching my thrist, I hiked down the hill and skipped rocks accross the stream. I walked over rocks to the other side and then along the other bank until I could find more stones to accommodate a return trip.
After my little detour it was getting around the time for my friend to return home. I headed back to her house on the same road I had traveled on in the car, which added up to four times by this point.
The things I notice on my bike going up the mountain, no more than 10 miles an hour, would astonish the average person. In the car, I don’t think that you see any less than you do when you are on a bicycle.
What happens is, you get to notice more. The speed of any motorized vehicle blurs the world around you. Cracks in the road, broken trees hanging over streams, little insects that seem to be playing a real-life game of Frogger lined up on the side of the road, all come into prespective when you are pedaling along.
Even in the city, everyday people that you normally pass by in your dizzying dash to the office become worthy of a wave on a bicycle.
If you’re jaded with your ride into work, your neighborhood, your city or town, trade your motor for a set of wheels one day. Do it on a day that you would usually go in the car. Leave a little earlier if you have to. I guarantee you’ll find a new place that was actually an old place that you never have stopped in or never had time to notice.
Been There Done That
Traveling my way through South East Asia a few years ago, I saw many buses that carted tourists around from city to city. By the look on most of their faces, I thought they were thinking the grass is greener on the other side. On days when it was scalding hot on the red clay roads, I know I reciprocated that glance.
The truth is, there’s no better way to see a country, a city, a town, or a village. Now, I have the privilege of doing this in my own country. I’m almost through my home state. I will be on to my third state, Tennessee, by the end of next week. I have missed a lot, I know, but I have also seen more of certain towns than some of the people that live there.