Monday, May 14, 2007

Bike love

This is Sachi. She’s probably the closest thing I have to a best friend in Japan. Without her, my life in this little town would be unbearably lonely.

We met last summer at volleyball practice and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Partly because Sachi is one of the few people in this town who can speak English. But mostly because she’s the only one here who really understands me.

We’re both in our 30s. We’re both single. We’re both outdoorsy.

Sachi is awesome. She’s traveled the world. She speaks three languages. She rides a motorcycle. She loves hiking and kayaking and cycling. She’s open and honest and always speaks her mind.

All of this adds up to make her a bit of an oddity in our rural town. Neither of us really fit in here.

And so, when the weekend comes, we hop on our bikes and just ride.

Our bike rides usually last the whole day. Yesterday, we rode for five hours. Sachi took me down to her favourite camping spot by the river. We sat on a couple of rocks and just breathed in the fresh air for a while.

In Vancouver, the highlight of my weekend rides is when we stop for cinnamon buns and coffee. In Japan, we stop for ramen and gyoza instead.

Last week at school, one of the kids asked me a tough question.

“What was the happiest time of your life?” he wanted to know.

I was stumped. I couldn’t think of anything. Or at least I couldn’t think of any one thing in particular. I told him I’d have to think about it and get back to him.

I realized what the answer was when I was on my bike yesterday. This. This is what makes me happy. Spending time with people I love and respect. Being in the great outdoors. Riding a bike on a country road. I don’t need much more than this.

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