The Best $100 I Ever Spent
Michael Pope – Boone, NC
Biking has been a part of my life since for longer than I can remember. I learned to ride my first two-wheeler bicycle at the age of 3. In middleschool I would ride every day, all day long with my friends in the Arizona heat. In college I had an old mountain bike i would ride around campus to and from class and work. That bicycle eventually broke and I found myself interested in purchasing a new bicycle, but this time I wanted something different. I wanted a road bike. In the hills of the Appalachian Mountains, a road bike is the perfect tool for commuting. I began searching online every day to try and find a deal on a decent road bike. After a week or two of searching, I finally came across an ad that was within my budget ($100) and decided to go meet up with the guy. The bike was exactly what I wanted, but little did I know how much this bicycle would actually change my life. The bike was an old, steel frame,banana-yellow Schwinn Varsity. It had a massive sprocket guard, bulging road tires, paddle shifters on the stem and a kickstand welded to the frame. It was a tank, and I loved it. It became my daily commuter bike. I would ride it to work, school, a friend’s house, the bank or wherever I needed to go. Sometimes I would just take it for a spin out of sheer boredom. Up until this point I had never really gone a bike ride by myself purely for the enjoyment of riding a bicycle. Though I enjoyed it, I usually had a reason to go on a ride. However, now and then I would find myself abandoning the reason, continuing on purely for the joy of strolling around town. Slowly over time, I began planning longer rides on google maps. I was doing maybe 8 miles at first, then 12 or 15, then 20 and finally 26. I was loving it! I had found something that I truly enjoyed. And i didn’t have a kit, or a proper helmet or shoes or clipless pedals or a garmin to record my time or track my stats. I was just riding my bike. It was maybe a month into the Summer and I decided I would go try riding down a road I had never been on before. I didn’t have a destination or mileage goal, I just wanted to see the road. The road was highway 221, which parallel’s a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway known as the Lineville Viaduct, a bridge constructed along the back side of Grandfather Mountain, graced with one of the most beautiful scenic views in the High Country. I was about 16 or so miles into my ride and I stopped on the side of the road and debated turning around since I had no clue where I was or how far I had ridden, but something inside of me wanted to push a little further. So, I hopped back on the road and kept going, and it was not but a mile or two more down the road when I looked up through the trees and was amazed at what was ahead. The viaduct! I had been on the viaduct perhaps once before but was unaware that it was where I was headed. I pushed onward. Perhaps 8 to 10 miles more I was riding over the viaduct overlooking a sea of green tree tops to the horizon. The sky was clear and I wiped the rain from my cheeks and I knew that this was the beginning of a new era for me. I had bonded myself to the road, the quiet of the wood, the shade of a canopy and the suffering of a hill. My name is Michael Pope, I’m 23 years old. I LOVE CYCLING!