Riding a bicycle is a journey – both literally and metaphorically; so much so, that I just might dare call it Cycling through Life.
I’ve learned this hidden secret as I’ve gone through my days as a city cyclist, and I have somehow pedaled my way into a metaphorical journey of self-discovery. You see, as someone who seeks meaning in all things that surround me and in all that I ever experience, it’s not surprising that my Schwinn Traveler has led me to think about the deeper meaning behind riding a bicycle and the metaphors that undoubtedly come with it.
As I move through the physical course that I set upon myself when I mount my bike each day and commute to my office, I travel both in the literal and metaphorical worlds. My journey expands across great lengths – both in time and in place- and none of this would have been possible had Schwinn not given me the opportunity to venture off into this explorative world of bicycling.
Yet, it wasn’t until the moment that I chose to write about my bicycling experiences that I realized that this expedition had begun long before I was selected as a Schwinn Ambassador. No, I soon came to realize that my true journey began in the Summer of my birth.
Let me explain…
Growing up, and having been destined to live the life of a “Summer Baby”, Summer was the most exciting time of the year for me. Each Summer brought me more life. It was the Summer sun itself that bathed me in energy, it enveloped me in the belief that I was a free being (a being with limitless potential), it engulfed me with joy and excitement, and it offered me the promise that with the longer days I could experience endless adventure.
Day by day the Southern California Summer heat burned my inner fuel and the sun drew me to the outdoors while it begged me to enjoy the world around me. In essence, Summer was not a season to me – it was an emotion. It was all things fun, warm, and carefree. It was the embodiment of my own excitement, which like the celestial body floating high in the sky, burned with great fire and could not be extinguished by any force in the universe.
Every year, I waited desperately for summer to finally arrive- and when it did, I equated the sunny season to water balloon fights, water gun fights, trips to the beach, pool parties, diving (or getting thrown) into the deep end of my uncle’s swimming pool, splashing around, and holding my breath underwater as long as I could.
But Summer was much more than this. As the sun dropped its shadows and the water grew too cold for our liking, our fun moved from within the pool onto the neighborhood streets. Summer was the season of bicycling. It was the season of life.
My sisters, cousins, and I rode our bikes off into the distance chasing the sun, hoping it would never leave us, until it was lost behind the mountains surrounding the San Fernando Valley. Without a care in the world and with my favorite people beside me- my childhood was perfect in those moments. Nothing else was needed but our bicycles and our own laughter.. Riding our bikes in the summer brought the joyful experience of freedom, of summer vacation, of eternal youth. Summer was the time to have the time of our lives and our bicycles were the golden chariots that drew us ever closer to adventure.
As we pedaled through the neighborhood and the wind clashed against our joyful faces we were given that continuous reminder that we were children and that nothing in the world would ever change that.
And so, that is actually when my journey began… as a child riding bicycles in the Summer with my family. We swam by day and rode by night – the heavens gazing from above.
Sadly though, as the years went by, I somehow allowed myself to forget about these precious memories. I grew up and allowed my mature, responsible, adult self to abandon my inner child in the deep reservoir of distant and forgotten memories. I left summer behind and lived my life in other seasons- still enjoyable and wonderful, but nowhere near the beauty and energy of summer.
But as I began my time as a Schwinn Ambassador I remembered the forgotten journey; the one I had once began when I was a child. I remembered the sensation that came with Summer. I felt the wind splash its arid force upon my face, the sun surrender its energy to me, the earth welcoming me to enjoy the natural playground, and every time I got on my bike my inner child reawakened from within.
This is exactly how bicycling is a journey, it’s a journey through life – a Cycling through Life. Whether I remembered it or not, bicycling has been in my life since I was a young boy – and now I’ve had the opportunity to continue on that journey; to remember the excitement that I had once extinguished with the blowing of birthday candles each year.
For quite some time, I had paused my journey and had forgotten what bicycling had once meant to me. But now, as I return to the exciting world of bicycling, the wheels of my physical and metaphorical journey have began to spin again thanks to Schwinn – who has served as the chain that connects my past to my present.
Just as in life, the spinning wheels on my bicycle head in the direction that I choose. As they spin they take me further away from my starting point and ever closer to my destination. Round and round they go and where the wheels spin to- only I will know. Guided by my movement, by my choices, and my rhythm, my journey will vary in steadiness, direction, and speed.
And what I’m learning and realizing in this metaphorical journey is that it’s all about balance. I have to balance everything that I do, and everything that I aspire to be, to ensure that I don’t fall off my seat; to ensure that I don’t lean too much to one side and fall hard to the ground; to be in the memories of my past, while enjoying the present, and looking forward to a future of an endless Summer.
This metaphorical odyssey that I’ve uncovered has only become available for me to explore because of the literal and physical journey that I have put myself in. As difficult as it has been pedaling my way up the steep hills of the San Francisco Bay Area and carrying my bicycle up various flights of stairs to the platforms of the Oakland Coliseum and Downtown Berkeley BART stations (among others), this journey has given me insight into the grandeur journey of life.
– Bryan Martinez
Bryan Rides a Schwinn Traveler
See Bryan’s first post: Beanies, Boots, and Bicycling – Part 1, here
My name is Bryan Martinez and I’m a 24 year old who constantly seeks adventure. I enjoy reading a lot, listening to music, painting, taking photos (instagram is lyfe), devouring pizza, exploring new places, and meeting up with friends for a chill time. I’m an LA native who moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2011 to study at UC Berkeley. Though I decided to stick around the area after graduation I often cruise down the coast to visit my family and friends who still reside in my beloved sunny Southern California.
As a Schwinn Ambassador I’m making it my ambition to explore life as a fully committed bicyclist in the urban setting. I’m leaving behind the luxury of driving my car and riding public transportation, to rely entirely on my bicycle to take me wherever I need to go. Rain or shine, I’ll be pedaling my way to every destination and will share my experiences along the journey.
Follow Bryan on his journey on Instagram @bubbabuhryan