Ride Like the Wind  

Cover photo courtesy Lara Gricar

By Shallan Knowles 

One day last summer, I took off from home for a ride on my bike when I was suddenly struck with a vivid flashback of riding as a kid down the middle of my street on my pink bike sporting a flower seat and streamers on the handlebars. Strangely, at that moment the memory and actual sensation of riding somehow felt one and the same. It took me a few minutes to make the connection that because I had forgotten to put on a helmet, the wind blowing through my hair and accompanying sense of freedom had triggered it all. As short-lived as it was (I turned around and went back home to get my helmet), it was a poignant reminder of the power of bikes.  

At least for me, the days of un-helmeted hair-flying riding are gone, but I still seek out that sense of freedom and ecstatic joy that riding a bike can elicit like nothing else. Not all of my two-wheeled experiences have been so positive and pure, however. My first adult bike was a pretty heavy hard-tail that I rode and walked on many challenging rides orchestrated by my now husband and Out There co-publisher Derrick. There was the peak summer heat attempt to ride from downtown to Spokane to Coeur d’Alene on the Centennial Trail, one of my first mountain bike rides ever on steep bike park trails (there were tears), challenging singletrack climbs and descents on trails far above my ability level from B.C. to Bend, but, somehow, I persisted in marriage and with a love for the unique sense of freedom that rolling down a trail or road on a bike can evoke. And I learned more about my relationship with riding a bike and what type of experiences are most fulfilling.  

Courtesy of Lara Gricar

Eventually I upgraded to a lightweight, full suspension 29er mountain bike that has made riding more fun than ever. That move convinced me that riding the best bike you can afford is a worthy investment. And while the quality of the bike you’re on is undeniably important, just getting out on whatever bike you have is more important, and riding with the right people matters most of all. Some of my best days this warm season will be on bikes with friendly, familiar faces and likely a pack of our kids leading the way. That flow of people and pines, of whooping and laughter as we wind down forgiving trails to fulfilling conversation back at the trailhead defines most of my adult bike rides of late. Those days often transcend even the formative feeling from memories of riding carefree as kids down empty streets at dusk, hair flying wild with nothing to lose.  

We hope this 2024 bike issue will stir some inspiration to get out and ride more this year. In this section, we cover a wide range of cycling activities and culture, from MTB to BMX, from the rise of e-bikes to the pros and cons of bikepacking, and the many biking events that bring people of all abilities and backgrounds together via their love of pedaling on wheels. As this spring creeps along into summer and then fall, don’t miss an opportunity to grab a bike (and helmet) and ride like the wind.  

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