the great hemingway once wrote, “it is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”
i have been able to relate to this folklore of late–this vast difference between exploring the hills and the freedom of going off-road, taking the world in by bike. in fact, in recent months i have felt no greater joy than getting back out on a bike. whether it be the nostalgic of pedaling my treadlie through residential streets, sweet remembrance of summertime playmates, or the physical challenge of long distant road cycling, the adrenaline of restoring my endurance. regardless of memory or sensation, it is a great path to be exploring again.
and i was reminded of this on sunday when i went to ride a familiar trail … and amazingly got lost. perhaps it was the distraction of the autumn air or my endless, fleeting nature but there i was somewhere between fitzroy and the yarra bend and nothing in-between … or so i thought.
following intuition i climbed a couple of hills until finally there was a chance to coast. the sign up ahead read “stanley park 200m ahead”. i veered left, which led me to this:
a rural refuge in the heart of the city. all the while in my own backyard–always too busy climbing hills, never really slowing down to just, well, coast. this unplanned detour, this scenery of peaceful beauty, is what i needed to stop, re-tune … change gears as the cyclist in me would say.
with all the social chaos, division of love between hemispheres, being a knowledge junkie and an endless sense of euphoria of what small things i might discover throughout the day, it is this roaming bliss that restores my allurement for the unknown. the unplanned. the unbound. it is that free spirit of mine that seems to flutter between nature and noise, often times, tangled. then released after a moment such as this.
h. g. wells prolifically scribed, “cycle tracks will abound in utopia.” today so happens that i found mine at a boathouse and community farm.
so go on, tuck away the map. lose yourself. because you never know what is beyond the next hill.