A recently submitted photo to Press Publications showed a sign at a rest stop along a local trail. It read, “You’re one bike ride away from a good mood.” Based on personal experience, I would have to wholeheartedly agree with this simple message.
One of the most consistently reliable respites from the day-to-day stresses we’ve been experiencing over the past year and a half has been outdoor activities. Specifically, bike rides, both solo and with groups of friends have proven to be welcome highlights. I’m grateful for the technology that has enabled us to keep in touch via Zoom calls, but there has been something special and comforting about getting together with friends I’ve known for decades for bike rides.
I happen to be part of a generation where bicycles represented an early key to childhood freedom and expanded responsibility, so bicycling in some form has always had a place in my life. I still marvel at the technology that enables us to so quietly and efficiently roll through the surrounding landscape.
Appreciation for the bicycle has come from some surprising notables including John F. Kennedy and Steve Jobs. The quote “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride” is attributed to Kennedy and I even found a vintage photo online (that looks legitimate) of the late president wearing sunglasses and smiling while pedaling a bike. Early videos of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs show him referencing a Scientific American article about the efficiency of the bicycle which stated “that a person on a bicycle was more energy efficient than a condor in flight and many times more energy efficient than a person in an automobile.” Jobs also made connections between the bicycle and computer technology saying, “What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.” The act of riding a bike can also make us more receptive and open to our surroundings. In a New York Times article, musician David Byrne cited his bicycle rides through different neighborhoods in Manhattan, where he was exposed to a mix of music from all over the world, as a direct influence on the ground breaking and influential music of the Talking Heads.
I feel fortunate that friends from the Twin Cities have been interested in meeting up and exploring the trail network up here in the Northeast Metro. Last weekend, however, a small group of us decided to expand our territory a bit with a ride along the Cannon Valley Trail between Red Wing and Cannon Falls. It’s surprising how effortlessly twenty miles can roll by when you’re having conversations with friends. As we pedaled along the trail, a wide range of ages and skill levels of bicyclists appeared to be successfully sharing the space. With a bit of courtesy and patience, everyone seemed to be getting along.
My family had a farm about five miles south of Cannon Falls, so I have some familiarity with the area. Back when passenger trains were still running along the route of the current bike trail, my parents gave me a one-way ticket out of town as a high school graduation present. A week after graduating, I boarded the train at the depot in Red Wing and headed out west for a summer job in Glacier National Park. I find it notable that a dominant, world changing technological advancement from a previous century has formed the foundation for the multi-use trail systems we now enjoy. Some bittersweet feelings are elicited as the days begin to get shorter, but I still look forward to getting the most out of the remaining crisp, mood enhancing days autumn has to offer.
Paul Dols is photojournalist/website editor for Press Publications. He can be reached at 651-407-1238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.