Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

Me & My Bike: A Love Story

Harper Beeland
October 17, 2016

I admit that it was not a healthy choice to keep myself pent up in Gambier for almost a whole month before finally wandering off the Hill one September afternoon.

In my defense, I wasn’t allowed to bring my car to Kenyon — the car I had been so dependent on throughout high school. That said, I hardly gave my bike (a nice bike, too) the attention it deserved before my freshman year of college. I knew that it would likely be handy in getting from class to class, but I had no idea how dramatically the relationship between me and my bike would change within my first few weeks at Kenyon.

It happened like this: I tried to read a book, I got a headache, I closed the book, I got on my bike, and I took a ride.

Destination: on the far south end of campus, concealed by a wall of trees, is the Kokosing Gap Trail, a paved path that spans 14 miles from Danville to Mount Vernon, with Gambier right in the middle, and which I had heard mentioned in passing a few times before. After crossing the road and turning onto the trail, I was immediately enveloped by the greens and yellows of late summer and the sweet smell of the Kokosing River. The vastness of the golden farmland on either side of me made me feel as if I had this place all to myself.

Before I realized it, I had covered the few miles into town, the tunnel of green suddenly opened onto a pink and orange sky, and I was in Mount Vernon. To my right were hordes of kids gathered for a Friday evening baseball game. Ahead of me, entire neighborhoods I hadn’t explored before. Families gathered on their front porches to savor the balmy weather.

I pedaled downtown, and as I stood in the town square, the hum of passing cars and friendly conversation coalesced into a single song that drowned out my own preoccupations, by which I mean all the things I should have been doing instead of taking a leisurely ride into town. But I thought back to the beginning of the semester, when the term “self-care” had been floating around so furiously. For some students, it meant tea time; for others, an evening of perusing quality memes within the deepest reaches of the Internet. I learned in the Mount Vernon town square that, for me, it meant getting away from campus by the power of my own two legs.

But I couldn’t discount the machine that had brought me to that square in the first place. I glanced down and watched as the evening sun glinted off the bike’s frame so perfectly, and suddenly, I couldn’t help but think, “Is this a date?”

Cynics will say that even the most promising relationships can turn sour after the first date, but I have repeated this trip into Mount Vernon almost every Friday afternoon, and I truly believe that the love between me and my bike has only grown stronger. If anything, that trip served as an affirmation of my undying infatuation not only with an inanimate object, but also with this place where I will spend the next four years of my life.