GRANBY —Full Circle Cyclery, Granby, recently announced the winner of its second annual essay contest. Amanda Stradley, 33, of Kremmling, Colo., won the essay contest with her essay written only a few days before the closing of the contest on July 1. After her friends encouraged her to start writing again, she saw a flyer at the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and decided to give it a try, she said. Stradley enjoys writing and is now very excited to get out on her brand new Norco Storm 6.2 mountain bike. The release of the essay contest winner was delayed this year due to one of the owners of Granby’s bike shop, Sue Valente, being deployed to one of the wildland fires in Southern Colorado. Everyone who entered won a free water bottle and a $10 gift certificate. “All of the essays were really wonderful this year, and it was really hard to pick a winner,” said Valente.
Imaginary Bike by Amanda Stradley
My hands grip the handles, almost white knuckled, pushing hard to keep my legs moving. I feel light-headed and winded trying to catch my breath, but I am only half the way up. I will not stop. I will keep going until I reach the top. I repeat to myself that if I stop, these masses of mosquito’s will delightfully and ravenously eat me in any area possible, leaving welts for days. These are some of the feelings I get as I bike up my hill. The Troublesome road in Grand County is where I live. Seemingly steady and drawn-out grades create the road, until just a mile from my house. The largest hills on the loop are right in front my house without being able to escape them. I use them to work out, to reflect upon things and just be alone. As I am biking, sometimes my mind is blank and other times I am in complete awe at the stunningly beautiful landscape around me. I reflect on how hard I have worked, learning to believe in myself and to stay on the right path. I keep my goals for my future at the very front of my thoughts and push this physical determination to reach the top into the mental side of achievement. When I reach the top, I gaze off to the epic scenery and appreciate the beauty, tradition and hard workers of my community. I am part of it. I must contribute to the tradition and give back.
My bike invigorates me. There is this special power that bikes have giving my mind a feeling of empowerment, energy, burn and above all, independence. When I was in elementary school, my bike was the ticket to freedom. When going to school I would ride as fast as I could, wind in my hair and speed in my pedals. I could ride to a friend’s house in half the time it took me to walk. When spring rolled around, I saved my lunch money to burn down to the ice cream shop and enjoy a cone without telling my parents. The cold creamy ice cream was the energy I needed to make it home right before dinner. I would sit at the table with sheer satisfaction and thrill from my day.
Today, my bike still has the power to fulfill my mind as it did as a child. However, now I realize the benefits of the bike. The energy bikes create and the energy bikes burn. I realized when I was living out east in a major metropolis of a gas guzzling SUV land and bumper-to-bumper traffic, that the bike was the fastest form of transportation. Not only did I save major amounts of time, but I also burned that triple shot espresso latte made with whole milk that I usually enjoyed while walking to my bike. In actuality, bikes save a lot of energy. The first issue to take a look at is global warming. There are undeniable traces of evidence resulting from the virtual carbon-fest in the Earth’s atmosphere. Killer storms, glaciers melting, rapidly disappearing snow pack is only a few signs of global warming. The United States contributes to approximately one quarter of the worlds carbon dioxide total. One quarter may seem minimal, but the U.S. is contributing over 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. Therefore, making the United States one of the top ten countries of the world for emitting the most amounts of fossil fuels.
These types of figures are why most of the world is seriously committed to promoting bike travel. So why can’t the United States stop spending billions on vehicle travel and start spending a small amount on bike travel?
It’s all about attitudes and political commitment. Bikes give the ability to have reliable transportation without emitting more fossil fuels. In turn, less gasoline is used and carbon emissions are less. One bike at a time, saving energy.
Bikes burn energy. Sometimes I feel that I am not in tip-top shape, but I know I must be to be able to accomplish the trails and endless hiking and biking paths around me. At these doubtful times, I am encouraged to “hit the hill.” The engine to this efficient mode of transportation is the human body. Unlike my small, sporty Volkswagen golf which uses fossil fuels, I am fueled with food, a renewable energy source. My body will burn the fuels I put into it when striving to accomplish the hills in front of my house. My muscles will burn the protein, glucose, and fatty acids as they contract with each turn of the pedals.
When I reach the top of the hill and breath slows, I am motivated. My bike gives me motivation, endurance, burn, energy and independence. It lets me reflect on my past and encourages my future. It is a long journey in life as it is up the hills. Eventually, I see the top of the hill and the path to get there. I may face obstacles and doubts, but I do not let them stop me. I am determined. When I get to the top, always knowing that I will, I feel invigorated and unstoppable. The hard work will pay off.