Yesterday, Christie and one of the troop’s co-leaders asked me if I’d go camping with the Girl Scouts this Spring. There’s a wall tent with cots for the Dads to share, so I wouldn’t need to bring a tent. “Cool,” I said. “Maybe I’ll ride the bike.”
“Um, it’s out in the sticks,” says they.
“I know,” says me. “That’s the point. New roads, new scenery, it’ll be a fun ride. How far is it?”
“It’s really far.”
“And there are at least two mountains you’d have to climb.”
“How far is it?”
Christie continues to protest. “It takes over an hour to get there.”
“How. Many. Miles?”
“I don’t know.” She looks at me like I’m retarded. I can’t blame her. She’s bailed me out before when I got too big for my chain ring. The last thing she’ll want to do is rescue the wheezing fat guy and his bike from some Jeep trail when she’s trying to get her troop of Brownies to camp. This conversation is rapidly approaching over.
“Would you please send me the address?”
It’s 30 miles away. About 2000 feet of climbing. I can do this. But that’s not the point. The point is I tried to get directions from my lovely wife that would apply to riding a bike. She doesn’t really ride a bike much, and I shouldn’t expect her to automatically say something like, “It’s 30.3 miles if you take the fire road through the State Forest, but that adds another 500 feet. If you go around the mountain it’s an extra 5 miles, but there’s no climbing and the Mom and Pop store on back road #7472273 pulls a really mean vanilla Coke.”
It’s all about perspective, I suppose. Ken Kifer wrote about this. A motorist doesn’t notice the little roads that turn off the main artery because he doesn’t care. The big, fast highway is the best way to get the big, fast SUV from point A to B. If there’s anything in between that doesn’t sell gasoline, it’s quite possibly irrelevant.
On the other hand, the big, fast highway isn’t very suitable for cycling. Or, at the very least, it’s not very comfortable for cycling. Back roads with little traffic, little “gas stations” that haven’t sold gas in a decade, and lots of scenery are just what we need. For those of us who live in town, these places are often more than a few miles away. Which leads me to my point.
“Any distance is biking distance.” –Kent Peterson
The people around me sure have had some good reasons to doubt my ambitions. Maybe if I live those 5 words I’ll give them a reason not to.