The Feeling of Liberation on a Bicycle

There’s something really amazing about being able to experience the city on two wheels instead of four.

The weather has been absolutely great for riding lately. Even if it’s a bit on the warm side, there’s nothing like the feeling of wind in your hair to keep you cool. I’m riding a mountain bike and most of the time I ride on the sidewalks. Hop, skip, dodge a pedestrian, stop for a car, ride, repeat. There’s a feeling of liberation — freedom from the tether of a desk or a car, escalating gas prices, parking tickets, worries. Instead of contributing to a problem I’m trying to fix it. Instead of worrying about the minutiae I’m focusing on my journey and my destination.

I go up and down sidewalks and, in my mind, I imagine trail switchbacks that I hope to one day ride. I see the Hollywood sign but all around me I see evidence of real life, not the contrived or imagined that is so typical of Los Angeles. I see faces, people walking to and from work, excited tourists from all over the world visiting Tinsel Town hoping to catch a glance of the next up and coming starlet. I see homeless people pushing their carts and huddling together in the evenings. I hear international exchanges everywhere. I ride through quietly privileged neighborhoods and bask in the foliage, ample sunshine, and impossibly wide streets.

Every so often I end up riding on a major street. Most of the time I’m cruising around sidewalks and residential neighborhoods. The whistles and cat calls come…it’s pretty much expected. What’s nice is when I pull up to a stop sign or crosswalk and catch eyes with a driver. They’re usually surprised by a bicyclist, for one. Two, they’re usually surprised that I’m a girl. (The males here seem to outnumber the females quite a bit.) So, I might get a few choice words or a silent acknowledgement, but then I’m back in my world again.

It’s not very often that I get to catch a ride with someone. When I do, I honestly feel like I connect with them on a different level. There’s almost a silent understanding, some sort of positive waves being exchanged. The feeling of being able to experience something so liberating and so joyous with someone else is indescribable. It’s like a new invisible bond is formed and sealed between you and them in that space and in that time. It’s irreplaceable. It’s not the same feeling that I get when I’m walking with someone, sitting next to or across from them, running, or even swimming. It’s a feeling I only get when I’m on a bike.

It seems as though when I want to let off some steam or think, I go for a run. When I want to challenge myself, I go for a swim. But, when I’m looking to return to a “happy place,” I go for a bike ride.

Then there’s the feeling of coming home safe…that always makes me happiest.

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