The truest and most horrible claim made for modern transport is that it ‘annihilates space.’ It does. It annihilates one of the most glorious gifts we have been given. It is a vile inflation which lowers the value of distance, so that a modern boy travels a hundred miles with less sense of liberation and pilgrimage and adventure than his grandfather got from travelling ten. C.S. Lewis, “Surprised by Joy”
Not long ago, I coaxed a good friend onto a bike for a ride on a gravel road. She’s in her fifties, fit and comfortable walking and running on trails. But for some reason, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d been on a bike. The look on her face during those first few pedal strokes still puts a smile on my face. “I feel like I’m ten again!” she said with unabashed glee.
As we pedaled along a fire road towards a dinner destination in downtown Richmond, my friend’s wonderment increased as she saw a part of the city she’d never explored before. It was only four miles, but it was four miles of a brand new world.
She could drive to Shockoe Bottom from her West End home, a 15- minute trip of twelve miles. In that trip, she’d see I-64 then the Expressway, then likely park in a garage and walk a couple blocks to the restaurant.
Instead, as we rode, we saw people running and cycling and walking dogs. We heard birds, the river, people talking and laughing. As we traversed the undulating footbridge hanging under the Lee Bridge, we stopped and enjoyed the view: Downtown RVA served up by the James River.
Four miles and forty-five minutes absorbing sights, sounds and happy energy versus twelve miles and fifteen minutes of staring out the window watching it whiz by.
How cool, looking at a bike as a way to enjoy space. There’s so much out there, and the slower we move through it, the happier we’ll be.
See you on the trail!
Posted by: Beth Weisbrod, VCTF Executive Director