The Rider

After a long weekend of binge eating and drinking, I headed out to the Munger Trail yesterday for a nice long, solo bike ride. It was one of those “just what the doctor ordered” kind of rides. I had been feeling in a lonely funk for part of the day. Not sure how to pin that kind of feeling down until I read this poem. There are stretches of the Munger that run so straight that the trail just disappears on the horizon. I didn’t see a soul out there in certain areas and I would stop and pick wild strawberries in the quietness of it all. It was a weird sensation to be sandwiched by that kind of remoteness.

The trail descends ever so slightly on the way back to Duluth—I rode it out to Carlton and back—and you can really let it rip on your bike. The air was warm and there was a nice breeze, so I just put the hammer down. After the bike ride, I felt refreshed and free. Such a great feeling to have. I left my loneliness panting behind me somewhere on the Munger. 27 miles of freedom for the soul.


The Rider

A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him,
the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.
What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.
A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell.

—Naomi Shihab Nye

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