Growing up, I wasn’t exactly what you’d call an outdoorsy person. I went to camp (fine arts camp) and a couple car camping trips. Once a year I’d make a trip to visit family in the Smoky Mountains and we’d go on a streak of outdoor adventures ranging from white water rafting to rock hopping, hiking to rock climbing. Aside from these limited adventures, I never did much more outside than explore the nearby “woods” a few blocks from my house. (To clarify, these woods were mostly some scrubby trees, some squirrels, and a littering of empty beer cans, cigarette butts and abandoned pornography- with a few ramshackle “forts” thrown in for good measure.)
While traveling abroad in Europe and around Asia, I found myself more and more drawn to getting outdoors and exploring my natural surroundings. During my travels I made a point to climb a few mountains (huffing and puffing the whole way), explore a few caves and otherwise spend more time outdoors than I ever did in the past. These few and far-between outings were fun, but it soon became clear that I’m very bad at going uphill and not fond of going downhill- understandable, with so little practice.
Then I moved to the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 2010; the natural beauty and proximity of wilderness to the city was very desirable. I was excited to get out and enjoy the wilds of Washington. However, after almost a year of living here I’d barely left the city. I went out once every month or two, but still found that I sucked at outdoorsy-ness. On a cool December hike with a new friend, the thought occurred to me that I really should try to get out more often- take advantage of what was readily available to me.
I’ve since set a goal for myself: for the duration of 2012, I will go out hiking at least twice a month in an effort to improve my overall conditioning and explore the local wilderness.
I remember my first bicycle, it was a gift and it was purple. I learned to ride it in my driveway and soon wobbled off onto my dirt road. After the training wheels came off, I continued to ride that little purple bike until my legs were too long for it and my legs were comically bent while my feet were on the pedals. After that first bicycle, there have been a slew of bicycles (mostly mountain bikes) ranging from a “gift from Santa Claus” to a cruiser I rode to class at university that subsequently disappeared from the bike rack outside my dorm.
In the Philippines, I was lucky enough to get a pretty decent bike built for me by a local bike shop owner. I used to take off and ride for hours at a time, much longer than I ever dared to ride before. These rides were mostly uphill, took place on terrifyingly busy local highways and allowed me my first opportunity for longer distance rides. When I moved to Korea, I didn’t have room to house a bike in my apartment. During my time in Cambodia, I rented a couple bicycles and used them to explore the countryside and looked forward to getting a proper bicycle upon my return to the US.
Similar to my desire to get out and hike, I kept telling myself that I needed to get a bike and after almost a year I still hadn’t done it. After a visit from my aunt and uncle, and showing them around Capitol Hill and Fremont on a borrowed mountain bike, I longed for a proper ride on which to explore the local bike paths and finally invested in a road bike. Slowly, I intend to explore the many bike paths and city rides around the Puget Sound region and just maybe become a better cyclist in the process.