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JENNA KUTCHER

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Life Lessons from My Daily Bike Rides

Before quarantine, I hadn’t ridden a bike (beyond my stationary one) in years… perhaps even a decade. When we bought our house up the north shore, the owner sold us a lot of their items to avoid moving them, and we ended up inheriting his bikes. At the time, I had no idea how profound this exchange would become.

The bikes hung on a hook in the corner of the garage and I didn’t give them much thought… until we decided to unexpectedly stay up north for months on end during quarantine. One of the best purchases we made in 2020 was a little bike trailer for Coco, hopeful that she would, in fact, enjoy it! Turns out, she does… And we’ve used it every single day — but that’s beyond the point.

I’ll be honest, we aren’t “biker” people. I don’t know a thing about bikes, I didn’t have the shorts with the padding (though I now recognize they are heaven), and I was afraid to clip in my shoes for fear that I’d just tip over, not being able to free my feet fast enough. Regardless, we understood that we could BECOME bikers (with time), and that we did.

Becoming ~official~ bikers

We pulled up a video on YouTube on how to connect the trailer; loaded it with an applesauce pouch, a few books, and string cheese for Coco; grabbed our newly purchased helmets from Amazon; and hit the road. The wind was in our hair with our little speaker playing some Surfaces, and a fun new adventure began. In the weeks to follow, I started to get religious about my rides, either breaking midday to set out with the family or waking up early to hit the road for some solitude along the lakeshore.

When I’m on my bike, my thoughts shift and almost become more free-flowing, less segmented by responsibilities of the day or interrupted by distractions. The simple act of stepping away from screens to feel the breeze on my skin, to watch the waves of the lake, and to enjoy the speed of being moved forward allows me the reprieve to imagine, dream, question, examine, and hope.

Quickly I became a girl rocking the Shimano biking shoes, Googling “cute” biker sunglasses, and figuring out ways we could pedal each day. It’s funny because, even just a year ago if you had asked me what my favorite way to spend time outside was, biking wouldn’t have even been on my radar. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s about slowing down, redefining who you are as a human, and exploring new adventures.

A flat tire-turned-realization

One day, we were out for a family ride when all of a sudden, I felt the air get sucked right out of my tire. I called to Drew and we pulled over on the side of the road. We were a few miles from home and not sure what to do, so Drew biked back to the house to grab the Jeep and come pick me and my bike with the flat up.

It’s funny because, before that, I had never ever thought about my tires. I just assumed they would work for me and didn’t give it much thought. We brought my bike back to the house where Drew inflated the tire, but the next time I got on my bike, all I could worry about was getting another flat and being stranded again.

Life’s like a flat tire…

Have you ever had a moment like that? When you’ve never really even given something a second thought but suddenly it’s all you can think about? Like how when you’re on the market for a new car and suddenly, all you pay attention to is cars. Or you’re thinking about getting a new pair of shoes and now you’re staring at everyone’s feet. Well, that’s how I became with my tire. Every time I’d get on my bike, I worried about it. Any wobble or noise made me flinch — and rightfully so, because it ended up going flat two more times in the next two weeks. (Special thanks to our amazing local bike shop, Fireweed Coop, for fixing it!)

Life is kind of like that, right? We’re doing our thing, not really thinking twice about it, when suddenly we get a flat tire. The flat tire stops us in our tracks and causes us to proceed with caution, to rethink what once was, and to pay closer attention. My time on my bike is like a reset, a chance to catch my breath, to slow down while not staying still, and to pay close attention to those little voices deep inside that are usually drowned out by the noisy world.

It’s been the most special kind of lesson that I needed to experience in this season, if nothing else than to remember to keep my eyes open. To be aware of what’s happening around me, and to be okay with unforeseen circumstances. And ultimately to not become jaded by them, but willing to stop on the side of the road with all intention to go again.


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by Jenna Kutcher 

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