As I write this post, the snow is quietly falling in our hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. Thanksgiving was last week, and will quickly be followed by Christmas and a plethora of holidays (on top of the season's holidays, our family has THREE birthdays in month of December), ending with the transition to a New Year. This is the time of year for reflection, for thankfulness, and for looking toward the future. It's also the time of year that I begin the countdown to spring for its better bike riding weather.
Not that a little winter riding doesn't beckon. In Wisconsin, this means the sweet sound of squeaking tires in fresh snow (its sweet in November & December, not so sweet when you hear it AGAIN in late March), the quiet ride home in darkness at the end of a workday, and the battle against the cold weather piercing your nose and lungs (yes, this is where you learn that you can tell the difference between +10* and -10*). Winter riding separates the wheat from the shaft, as they say. It's what keeps out the riff-raff. It's definitely a unique experience. For some, they say it's their favorite time to ride. For me, it makes me appreciate the feeling of riding my bike in the summer!
At Saris, we use the statement "free your bike and your soul will follow" to describe the feeling that we have when we get our bike out and lock it into our car rack, destination in mind and adventure to follow. It symbolizes the emotional connection we have to our bikes, the places we ride, and the fun we have. But, in our work, we ask ourselves frequently, 'what does this really mean'? Where do you free your bike? Where does it take your soul? What is the gut feeling you get when you pack up your bike and your gear to head out to your favorite ride?
And, my scientific response is that while the actual response is completely individual to each person you ask, the general response falls within the following:
Freedom — The bike allows you to explore in new territory, seeing the world from a new perspective. Connecting your bike to your car allows to you expand your footprint and see from an even greater, and different, perspective. Your bike gives you a ticket to see more, higher, faster than you could by foot, but allows you to catch the details and engage all senses while you ride. It's freedom for a kid to hit the road by bike, and that feeling has stuck with me as an adult.
Adventure — Speed, terror, the edge of control. You can get to each of these adrenaline rushes far faster by bike. You can control the level to which you search out adventure and you drive to push your body. Even though the bike is totally people powered, it's really a partnership between you, the rider, and the path you find. Not always (okay, rarely) is the people part really in control here!
Togetherness — Often, the key to a successful ride has nothing to do with the bike. Vacation riding, lazy weekend afternoon riding, nothing-but-time riding, social riding, taking-the-kids-to-school riding…it's not about the bike, it's about who you are with on the ride. Time flies because I get to spend time with some of my favorite people. The fact we are on a bike is a total bonus, but it's only the vehicle to get us together.
Dreaming — The bike allows my mind to wander and to dream. Sometimes this has disastrous consequences (see bike in ditch problems), but often it gives me the best time to think, assess, dream. Some of my best ideas have come to me in the saddle. And some of my best problem solving has been done on the seat of the bike. A good ride clears the air and mind, and allows space for new ideas, thinking, and perspective. Powerful!
So, as we enter this busy holiday season, I am taking a moment to reflect on what I have to be thankful for. The link between me, my bike and my emotional health are definitely in the mix. If you are like me and your visions of sugarplums include visions of better bike riding, this is a good time to take care of your bike, your riding vision, and your soul. From our family to yours, we wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season. Free your bike, and enjoy your journey, wherever it takes you!
By Sarah Reiter, Product Manager