On the occasion of my first bicycle commute home in 2013, I was reminded of a quote that I used for a time on my first blog:
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best…
If you spend enough time on a bicycle, sweating up the hills as Hemingway described, you do get a more exquisitely vivid picture than you do behind the wheel of a car or while half asleep in the back of a bus. An “accurate remembrance” of the countryside comes only with experiencing it up close, under your own power with the wind whistling by your ears and your heart pounding to tell you it is still there and working.
Driving a car, only the highest of hills impress you. After cycling, when you do see a hill through the windshield of a car you think what it would be like to pedal it and how good it would be to fly down the other side.
You get to where you would rather be on two wheels than four, and you look over your shoulder every few seconds whether you’re riding down the road, walking to the bus stop, or stuck in your car in traffic on The Diagonal on one of those rare days when you actually have to start the 4-liter monster under the hood of that ’91 Renegade.
From Table Mesa in Boulder to the Smith home in Longmont is 22 miles if you take Valmont all the way to 95th Street and then head north. The mountains are just a quick glance over your shoulder, back toward the setting sun.
There are contours no matter which route you take.