Feel the wind on your skin

Here is a wonderful story that I recently read:

As a young man my father raced bicycles. He was a very good amateur racer who won 100-mile road races. He met my mother then, and because she couldn’t stand to see the inevitable crashes and injuries, he did not pursue a professional career but instead became a journeyman carpenter.

The bike was put aside as the country became involved in World War II. Because of his carpentry skill, Dad was put to work building barracks, finally becoming a crew chief working in Yakima, Washington, on the building in which the atomic bomb was created.

Fast-forward 40 years to when Dad was in his late 60s and he began to race again in age-group races, much to my mother’s consternation.

This long preamble leads to a conversation I had with my Dad when he was about 80. He had a summer home at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and on most weekends he would ride around the lake, a hilly 30-plus miles. One day, as he pedaled up to me at the end of a ride, he was drenched in sweat. It was 90-plus degrees and humid. I asked him how he felt after that long ride. All he could talk about was how the wind felt on his sweat-drenched body and how most people did not understand the deep pleasure and satisfaction that wind against the body gave. His contemporaries, of course, many of whom could barely walk, all thought he was crazy.

They would ask him why anyone would subject himself to what they saw as torture. He thought the answer was very simple—the only way to experience the wind was to ride. Wanting that feeling was the reason he rode. He never rode “for exercise”; he rode for pleasure. He rode to feel the wind on his skin.

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