By Elizabeth Miller

‘The Gift of a Biking Pace’

Valentine, Nebraska, June 27

Twenty people are hand washing their clothes in a sink or a small plastic tub. I watch the rinse water run clear over the fabric and exit brown as it passes through. Soon the clothes line sags, full of clothes, strung between as many trees as grow on our campsite. Laundry. Setting up shelter and a place to sleep. Getting from one place to another. On a cycling trip, every act of life takes more time, more care offered by my own body. 

As I scrub and wring out each piece of clothing one by one, I notice the burn in my arms. These strong arms. Likewise, as I pedal from one town to the next, crest one hill and descend to the base of another, I feel the warmth in my legs. These strong legs. 

I realized the other day while passing fields in the midst of wheat harvest that my sense of time and distance has begun to change. I have family in Lincoln, and 100 miles west in Grand Island. In a car on the highway, the trip takes about an hour and a half. I gleefully realized that I could make that trip in a day on my bike— just a day! And it doesn’t seem so long or daunting or such a waste of time anymore to spend a day cycling instead of rushing there faster. Perhaps the visit would be that much sweeter because of the effort I gave to arrive. 

That time and energy is sacred, a spiritual act— and a gift that I can continue to offer to the earth and my loved ones as I move through life.