I am an avid road cyclist and last week completed my third Bicycle Tour of Colorado (BTC), a stage ride versus race, that travels through the mountains of Colorado every June for 7 days and usually comprises around 500 total miles of riding. It’s a challenging event for sure, but made sublime and inspiring by the vistas and scenes we all are fortunate to experience. This year’s ride was no exception as we rode through well-known towns like Estes Park, Granby, Steamboat Springs, Vail and Frisco and some lesser known gems like Rollinsville, Toponas, Oak Creek, Burns, State Bridge and Yampa. And we rode over high altitude roads like Trail Ridge, Rabbit Ears Pass, Vail Pass and Loveland Pass. The world just looks and feels different from the seat of a bicycle.
One town we over-nighted in was Glenwood Springs, CO. A pretty cool town, hard by the banks of the Colorado River with an authentic Western heritage—Doc Holliday died there. The river is raging at the moment due to all of the snow melt and runoff, and it defines Glenwood as a river town. While walking around town one evening I stopped into the Hotel Denver, as I’d not seen it before. A nice example of how to renovate a beautiful old hotel and yet somehow keep it fresh. And on the wall in the lobby of the hotel is this quote:
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”.
The words belong to Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher (535 to 475 B.C.) who must have known something about rivers, and life. It struck me first as rather cryptic, almost like a riddle. But as I considered the words, what came up for me were the twin notions of flow and change. The metaphor of “the river of life” is not a new one, but this Greek fella seemed to put a new twist on it for me. I’m not sure I can articulate what that is exactly but little did I expect to walk into a hotel lobby in Glenwood Springs and be so surprised and inspired by the words of an ancient Greek.
But I do know that we followed the river that next day on our ride, watching it flow and change, and I realized that we, the riders, were all flowing and changing along with the river—part of the same force. And we knew that by the end of the ride we’d not be the same people as when we started—we’d come to the end of the trail different, changed, inspired… and you bet, tired. I guess that why we do it—to get in the flow, feel the change and let it sweep us along while we ride. It’s quite an experience.