My middle child and I were talking the other day about our hopes and plans for 2014 when she said something that surprised me.
“Riding your bike has changed your life, Dad.”
She’s probably only slightly exaggerating. My life has gone through some major changes over the past few years, and it’s always been pretty good, but 2013 has become the year that I started spending a lot of my free time looking over Google Maps and TrailLink.com, comparing my work schedule with weather forecasts, and trying to squeeze as much cycling into my days as possible. During my work days, an internal dialogue and debate is often running through my head, sounding something like this:
“I’m running ahead of schedule, and will be approaching Pittsburgh at around 5 pm. There will be plenty of parking available at the turnpike rest area near the Allegheny River. You could park the truck, sneak the bike through the gate to the employee parking lot, then ride down to the river and be back in time to make your appointment”.
“That’s crazy. I’ve never been there, and those hills are steep.”
Then I pass the large bridge over the Allegheny, and I see the beautiful river below.
“Look at that. Well now I just have to stop and do this, don’t I?”
I’ve sneaked through openings in fences to ride from a rest area to the Appalachian Trial, ridden on long-abandoned stretches of highways that looked like post-apocalyptic wastelands, and braved 20 degree weather in order to squeeze in a bike ride after driving all night. When you’re a truck driver, and when finding truck parking can be difficult, it makes it all that much harder to turn down bike riding opportunities when they arise.
So my daughter is right. Bike riding hasn’t helped me lose this extra weight around my middle, but it has changed my life. It has made me even happier than I had been, and it has taught me to better appreciate the opportunities that each and every day provides. Like life in general, the bike rides don’t have to be marathons or endurance events, but they do have to be honored as an important part of life lived well, and days spent fully.
Oh, and there is one more important thing I have been meaning to mention. For truck drivers, as with everyone, time and money are finite resources. When I wasn’t squeezing every last minute trying to fit these little adventures into my U.S. Department of Transportation regulated schedules, I was pinching pennies too. Almost all of these trips cost me next to nothing. That’s one of the benefits of the job; as long as where you want to go coincides with where your dispatcher sends you, then the transportation costs are free!
Well, this introduction has ended up being far longer that I had anticipated, but that’s ok. Here are some of my favorite pictures from my many adventures throughout the past year. Follow the links provided for the original posts, and information about nearby truck parking and whatnot.
If you’ll forgive the hyperbole, I must say that I think 2014 is going to be awesome!