Bike riding has always been a preferred means of exercise and “mind clearing” for me. As a kid, my red bike was my major means of transportation down the dusty dirt roads to my friends’ houses. Even when there was no specific place to go, I loved to joy ride in the cool of the day on tree-covered pathways. No gears. Nothing fancy. Just a lot of pedaling and some mighty good kid times.
In college, I proudly bought another red bike, this one with three gears. I rode up and down the shady, oak and elm covered streets of Alvin, TX, enjoying the silent solitude. A couple of years later, I moved that bike in a U-Haul trailer to seminary. There, I rode on a regular basis the newly established bike trails along the Trinity River in Ft. Worth. Usually, I had riding companions, maybe two of three of the guys who sang in the middle school choir I directed at University Baptist Church. Ten years after seminary, I took up biking again, this time on the long, wide, winding trails along the muddy Red River between Shreveport and Bossier City, Louisiana.
Fast forward another couple of decades. Pandemic. COVID-19. Isolation. Quarantines. Masks. Social distancing. After several weeks, the aloneness was beginning to get to me.
As much in desperation as celebration, I found my way to a bike store and found inventories sagging and most bike racks empty. At the fifth store I visited, there was one hybrid (that’s a combination between a trail bike and a speed bike) remaining on the showroom floor. It was friendly-looking, was made of lightweight but super-strong aluminum alloy, was a matte finish in black. Seven speeds. And the price was reasonable. Sold.
So, seven weeks ago, I loaded up my new bike into the back of my SUV. I keep it there so it will always be handy in case the sudden urge strikes me. I also keep my riding gear, helmet, and apparel in the vehicle at all times so I can ride at the drop of a hat.
What I discovered was something I have vaguely known about for a few years: San Antonio Bike Trails! I knew they were there, and I had also understood them to be very popular. I found the trail nearest my home and set out to ride. It was a truly wonderful experience! The new bike was a quantum leap in comfort from any before, and the trails of San Antonio are nothing short of glorious … hundreds and hundreds of miles of them. Their pathways wind through the city in such a way that the rider feels as though he is far out in the country. It’s fascinating the way expansive, glorious nature is sandwiched within the seams of urban sprawl. Kudos to city planners and engineers! Bravo!
Sometimes, when life becomes heavy, feels foggy, moves monotonously, or drags along as though it has temporarily lost its meaning — these are the times we can benefit from retreating and finding comfort in “new” things. And sometimes, those new things may be new models of what helped us along when we were younger. Look around. A solution for you may be similar to what I found: I discovered a whole new world of beauty that provides relief from the daily grind and gloom.
Go searching. Really for it. Be willing to take a healthy risk. My hunch is you may be surprised at what you discover!
- When you were a teenager or child, where did you go to clear your head or to enjoy some solitude? Was it a physical, geographical spot, or was it more of an activity … such as bike riding? Describe your “place.”
- As an adult, do you have a similar way of finding peace and comfort when life becomes too complicated?
- Is there anything you could now borrow from your childhood that would help you navigate the challenges of today? What are the forces and influences that prevent us from taking care of ourselves in 2020?
- How can we as leaders help our student and adult singers find their own private “Sanctuaries”?