I think the more I explore the mountains from the seat of my bike, the more of a necessity these mountain adventures become in my life. There are other ways of exploring the mountains of course, through running, hiking, backpacking, skiing, etc., but for some reason concquering a mountain on a bike gives me a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of joy like nothing else I have ever experienced. No matter how much I may suffer climbing a mountain on my bike, the end result is always worth it. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I truly came to understand why the mountains have become a requirement for my health, happiness, and sanity.
I truly believe that a human being’s ultimate purpose in life is to achieve self-actualization, and this occurs only through consistent and incremental growth. I also think that there are certain things in this world that can truly make us feel alive, whether it be physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally, and that these experiences are absolutely necessary for health and happiness. Spending time out in the mountains satisfies both of these needs.
I am my most authentic self when I am out climbing a mountain on my bike. I get this feeling from swimming, running, hiking, and a few other activities as well, but nothing gives me this sense of awareness of myself like cycling into the mountains does. When I am climbing on my bike, when there is sweat dripping from my face, when my heart is beating through my chest, when my lungs are screaming for more oxygen, when my legs are crying out in discomfort, and when all I want is for gravity to lessen up its hold over me for just a moment, I feel alive. I feel more alive in these moments than when I am doing anything else.
I feel alive because I am detached, albeit momentarily, from all of the stress of the world down below me. I feel alive because I am out in nature, exploring the beauty of the world around me. I feel alive because I am pushing my body physically and psychologically to new heights, forcing it to grow stronger and more resilient. I feel alive because I am momentarily as far away from physical, spiritual, and emotional death as I possibly can be.
I am positive that anyone else that loves the mountains can identify with at least one aspect of my reasoning above. I certainly don’t do it because I am a massochist that enjoys the physical feeling of discomfort and oxygen deprivation, but I enjoy what these feelings and sensations intrinsically mean. These physical feelings are a reminder that I am alive out in nature and pushing myself to grow into a stronger human being because of the suffering that I am enduring. This feeling is what draws me into the mountains, and it is what will continue to draw me towards the mountains, as crazy as it may seem.
“The Mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir