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Freedom

December 4th, 2012

I rode up Mt. Lemmon recently with my son – our first Lemmon ascent via bicycles together.

It’s hard to put down in words the emotions I felt and thoughts I had during our five mile climb up Catalina Highway – a road that in many ways, defines me.  Pride, admiration, love – most certainly – he is my son, after all.  But it was more than that and it took me a couple of miles to process.
 
He didn’t talk much on the ride, and not because he was out of breath.  His eyes sparkled with excitement and I could tell the wheels were turning – so to speak.  His silence struck me as strange, at first.  Those of you who know me and have ridden with me will understand why.
 
But I went with it, and onward we rode – nothing but the sound of the tires on the road, the turning of the chain, and breathing.  As we caught my father and a friend, Matthew looked back at me, smiled, and then dropped the hammer.  Inspired by our progress, the mountain, races he’d watched on television – he pushed hard and didn’t look back.

At that moment, I experienced an epiphany, a moment of clarity that would reinforce what I love about cycling.

As a young boy, the bicycle was my magic carpet.  I did not realize it at the time, but through it I found freedom – both literally and in spirit.  I lived in the moment when I rode – the effort and the terrain required a certain amount of attention – the perfect amount of attention, perhaps:  I was free to explore, experience, and to be – but I had to pedal, push, sweat, suffer, and think my way up, down, around, and home.  Later, with friends, there was the element of competition – but it was still different on the bike.  Instead of, “See what I can do,” it was more like, “Let’s see what I can do.”

So as I watched, it became obvious why I was so moved.  I watched him realize for the first time that the bicycle will take him many places, and I could see him experience a level of freedom that had not been felt before this day.  It’s a powerful feeling and one that transcends age, yet one that we “old” people often take for granted. 

Watching my son ride free confirmed a notion that had been buried in me for some time. 

Cycling is a beautiful pursuit – pure and honest.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

MJ Attacks Mt. Lemmon from Jimmy Riccitello on Vimeo.

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