There’s something about biking that you really don’t get when you’re in a car: a heightened awareness of what’s going on around you.
And when you take heightened sensory awareness and add the bike-induced ability to stop randomly, pull off the road, and actually look at things, you turn what could otherwise be only a simple commute into a travel experience.
Today, for example, I kept hearing the kyew kyew kyew of osprey as I biked along the Columbia River. Granted, this was already a joyride, not, strictly speaking, a commute, but when I saw this guy (or lady:) sitting on a post, I pulled off the side of the path to watch it for a bit.
You’ll have to forgive the fact that I don’t have super-zoom on my camera, but as I was watching, it launched itself off the post…
…did its awesome osprey headfirst-dive-with-the-last-minute-switcheroo-to-strike-talon-first…
…and then flew back to its nest with a fish.
This is nature at its finest, playing out right along Marine Drive, where thousands of people drive by (and, let’s face it, also bike or run or walk) unseeing every day. And I’ll admit that I’m more excited about birds than some, but it’s not only birds that you see more of while biking–it’s anything that you want to turn your mind to, anything that you can stop for a second to take in at a slower pace.
I’ve seen some pretty rad things from my bike, and I’m convinced it’s about 40% because I go more slowly and have time to actually look at things, and the other 60% simply because being on a bike puts me in a position where I’m much more attuned to the world–the wind, temperature, sounds, smells…anything that might cause me to take notice of something unusual. Once you lose the motor and remove the metal and glass from around you, there’s a whole new world out there if you care to let it in. For me, today, it was an osprey-stravaganza along the Columbia. What will it be for you?