Words and Imagery by Mateo Arango @matangog
Each war, each crisis, and each pandemic makes us grow as humankind. Now, what has Covid-19 taught us? Forcibly, we have had to adapt to a new reality full of uncertainty. In this transition, we find obstacles which can make us stray easily from our path. It is here, by going back to basics and enjoying the simple things, that we get back the certainty that our lives have been missing for the last nine months.
On August 4th, Victoria established more severe restrictions to combat the pandemic in metropolitan Melbourne, limiting, even more, the activities that spice up our daily life. Among them, riding our bicycle. Sunday rides with coffee stops were over, no more adrenaline doses while riding trails and the nights spent inside a tent while bikepacking only dwelled in our memory. All our lives reduced to a small bubble of a 5-kilometre radius, with one hour of daily exercise! One hour!
These restrictions affect many other things for those of us who are passionate cyclists. As riders, deep-seated in each of us is a relentless desire to experience a more extraordinary adventure than the previous, reach out farther or surpass increasingly more significant challenges. This desire was now limited to the point of losing motivation to pedal. The bicycle started to feel nostalgic, like a previous experience we've loved and lost to time.
However, in the rawest and most adverse of situations, that is where the potential of the bike shines, allowing us to find astonishment in the most mundane sections of our lives. I wondered, could I find enjoyment in the pedal strikes just as when I was a child, regardless of the watts, and without looking at the GPS? Would I smile again at the feeling of the wind in my face? How exciting would it be to see the asphalt and the grass move quickly under my wheels? How could we recover this capacity for astonishment? The answer was simple: going back to basics, enjoying the simplicity. By doing it, we shall be free from this need to want more. We shall be free from the prison in which sometimes we the cyclists live, and the bicycle shall be the key to freeing us. In the simplest things, we can find the most remarkable beauty. The alleyways of my neighbourhood called me, asking in silence to ride them. They tell day-to-day life experiences and house all kind of stories. I went out to visit the local market, passed by the coffee shop to say hi and to look at life with fresh eyes. I discovered the magic of enjoying a coffee seated on a footpath, seeing life pass by and follow its course. I decided to allow myself to go along with it. Pedalling without thinking about anything else.
In the monotony of doing laps in a circuit, I could find that moment to disconnect from the world. Appreciating that we have the fortune to feel that addictive pain in our legs and feel our breath accelerate with each pedalling stroke. It allowed me to remember what made me fall in love with this freedom machine in the first place.
Slowly, I came to my realisation: we are lucky enough to have the certainty that the sun, at the end of the day, will always set, painting colours in the sky, giving life back to our days. That life we thought had escaped from us, but that always had remained there, in the simplest and most basic of things. We are lucky enough to be able to contemplate each dusk while we enjoy a ride on our bikes. So enjoy the ride, whether it be skidding, doing wheelies and getting attention, or simply enjoying the solitude and a free mind. Smile, pedal slowly and enjoy the joy that our two-wheeled freedom machines allow us.
Thanks to Mateo, BikeExchange's resident filmmaker, photographer, bike lover and rider, and social media manager for sharing his story.
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