One summer evening in the beginning of August, I was spinning home alone along Marine Drive in West Vancouver after a hot, hard and hilly 110 kilometer ride to Squamish and back. I had just separated from my riding buddy and I had 30 kilometers to go, my legs felt like jelly and I was having delusions of ice cream and strawberry milkshakes from White Spot. I was still relishing my ride of solitude (something you appreciate as a cyclist to escape the busyness of everyday life) but I had no intentions on hammering it home, so that evening, I was doing something that I unfortunately don’t do enough of: looking up and soaking in my surroundings. I’ve been on this route dozens of times and was familiar with every hill, pothole, a dip in the pavement, and when the tree-lined roads would suddenly curve and open up to sprawling water views…
But that evening, I recall looking up and not recognizing anything. Did I somehow take the wrong exit because I was lethargic and hungry for real food? Not to mention, my phone was dead and I forgot to bring the inflator for my CO2 cartridges if I were to get a flat (I would have been epically screwed). Moments of panic settled in as I searched for recognizable sights. No, I was sure I was going the right direction because there was only one way to get home and it was straight. I think. I kept on riding anyway.
It dawned on me that even though I have ridden this particular road back and forth countless times, I was always on autopilot because the goal was always to get to the destination, maybe grab a coffee, loop around and go home. Typical training route with no traffic lights, minimal cars, great views (when you do glance up) and absolute freedom. I thought I knew the the way well but I guess I barely knew it at all. And although I do usually glance up from time to time, I have never actually immersed myself in its details because I was too busy catching my breath— the houses, the driveways, the intersections, the school… those were usually blurry forms that may swiftly materialize in your peripheral vision as you ride by, lost in your own suffering.
Suddenly, an opening formed between the trees and I caught a glimpse of the Lions Gate Bridge in the far distance. Finally, something I recognized! I was at peace again and on my way home. I love riding my bike.