By Adrian Duyzer
Published May 21, 2012
Azure sky. Dazzling sun. Rugged nature bisected by a single asphalt ribbon. A single solitary driver blasts down it, wind in his hair, engine roaring. Freedom.
The thrill of the open road.
Thrill Of The QEW. Image credit: Toronto Star
Lying in advertising is nothing new, of course. I have never seen my wife's hair swing from side-to-side in a slow-motion dance of gleaming strands because of her hair conditioner.
I have never been mobbed by a throng of cheering, partying girls after cracking open a Coors Light (although, admittedly, I don't try very often).
But the car companies aren't lying, exactly. The thrill they portray does happen, and as drivers we've all experienced it. The problem is that we experience it so rarely, like during a long weekend up north as we bomb down a provincial highway on the way to the LCBO or a beach or both, in that order.
The rest of the time it's either a mediocre experience or as GTA commuters experience every workday, it's horrible.
If you actually really want the thrill of the open road, and you want it consistently, affordably, and right here in the city, you need to start cycling.
I've relied on a bicycle for a substantial part of my transportation needs ever since I was a kid, and the experience just doesn't get old.
Whipping down city streets, wheels thrumming, the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, the freedom to go where you please and to take routes less traveled: it's an awful lot like the car commercials, except the thrill is far more consistent and accessible.
You don't have to go to Muskoka to get your heart pounding on a bicycle.
It's not always perfect, of course. Biking in the rain is no fun if you're trying to stay dry. But in almost thirty years of cycling, I've been stuck in precisely zero traffic jams. The trade-off is more than worth it.
Then there's the purely recreational cycling in a city that has an amazing variety of trails and paths.
Last night I hopped on my bike and headed up the Chedoke Rail Trail. I'm no photographer, but these shots from my iPhone hint at a bit of the beauty I experienced while - you guessed it - blasting down trails with the sun on my face and the wind in my hair.
Iroquois Heights forest meadow.
Bicycles are quiet enough to let you get close to wildlife.
This photo doesn't do justice to the multi-layered and complex beauty of this sunset, viewed from the cliffs that overlook the 403.
For me, cycling is still mainly just a handy way to get around. There are moments, though, when cycling transcends mere transportation, and those moments happen more often than you might think. If you're not a cyclist, go buy a bike and get started. I promise you'll love it a lot more than you think.
P.S. May 28 is Bike To Work Day.