Today is my last day riding my bike to work. That's because it's my last day of work, at least in this career. Today I officially retire from the Pennington County Sheriff's Office.
|Riding downstream on the bike path along Rapid Creek past M-Hill and then toward the sun to downtown Rapid City.
For the past 12 years, I have ridden a bicycle to work practically every day. Not absolutely every day, but practically every day.
With shifting work responsibilities and a maturing family, one constant throughout the years was cycling. Every day, I hopped on my bike and rolled through our neighborhood, grinning in disbelief that I got to ride my bike that day. As if dipped in magic waters, I'm 12 years old riding to the park to play baseball with my friends.
After a shift, or a shift and a half, working in a demanding environment, I hopped on my bike and rolled home. Two rides in one day! Somewhere along the way, work troubles always seemed to drop off the back. They just couldn't hang with the pace of the good vibes pulling me along.
"It'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick,
they'll have to brush them away from their faces." Terrance Mann, Field of Dreams (1989).
Cycling travels at a human level. I loved seeing and greeting all kinds of folks along the bike path that formed a large portion of my commute. Even in the depths of a western South Dakota winter, folks are out, throughout the day and night, enjoying the bike path for recreation and transportation.
The most regular of the regulars, however, was cyclist Bill Marquadt. A retired 70-something year old, Bill rides almost 50 miles every day, year round, totaling somewhere around 16,000+ miles per year. When I rode in at about 6:00 am, I often saw him riding home. We regularly stopped to chat for a moment, so I may need an early ride now and then to catch up with Bill.
|A fun, little side trail along the other side of Rapid Creek on the base of M-Hill.
The newest regular along my commute was Lucas Haan, an enterprising young School of Mines engineer with a passion for all things cycling and beer. Last winter, Lucas successfully completed the Icy Bike Winter Cycling Challenge by commuting 81 days during our 6 month winter. He even arranged his schedule to share with me part of his ride home. I may need to arrange my retirement schedule to occasionally ride in with Lucas.
Riding my bike to work simply started as a way to get to work. It became an integral part of my lifestyle. I will miss it.
|Entering downtown Rapid City as the city awakens.