First bike ride of the season took me on my favorite solo-cruise route – from Millvale along the Three Rivers trail, past PNC Park, around Heinz Field, across the bridge and down to Point State Park. The scenery changes quickly, the path goes from crushed stone to pavement to concrete with varying degrees of incline, and on the first free day I’ve had in awhile that just happened to the warmest yet, I could not resist putting on my headphones and going for a ride. 
Shuffle did not fail me, starting with a strong run of modern pop punk.


“I’m safe, and who ever thought that was difficult?
My nerves start to feel so frayed.
I’m trying to turn things around, but instead
I’ll say ‘Why do I feel so invisible?
Good things will come my way.’
I’m trying to turn things around, and I wait

‘Till the day when I stop making big mistakes
And the clouds, they roll out of this whole damn state
I believe in a place and I wanna go
Honesty will leave me feeling livable
Once I change.

Now that I’ve found some time, all the pain won’t bother me.
I’ve wanted to find what my head keeps filtering.”
~Good Things

The Dangerous Summer, War Paint

The trail was full of so many people – solo riders like me, couples jogging, small groups of  walkers or cyclists – so I knew better than to blast the volume and tune out. Never know when someone’s speeding up behind you. I quit dodging the crowds for a bit when I got to the Point, and decided to stretch out and lay on the grass. Like divine intervention, or the mathematical realities of an 8-gig device, a sliver of “Clarity” arrived on cue. 

I laid there for awhile, listening to the same song over and over again. I put the volume up and watched the clouds, watched the fountain, and stretched my feet in time to the staccato strings. I let the rest of the album play the whole ride back.

“I promised I’d see it again
I promised I’d see this with you now.
I promised I’d see it again,
I promised I’d see this with you now.

I said, said, said it out loud over and over
Said, said, said it out loud but it did not help
I’ll stop now just enough so I can hear you
I stay up as late as it takes”

~Just Watch The Fireworks
Jimmy Eat World, Clarity


By the time I made my way back to the trail head, I was just sweaty enough, feeling tension-free and exhilarated by the spontaneous ride. I switched back to shuffle and found myself where I started,with “Suburbia” piping through like a boisterous old friend you haven’t seen in awhile. Usually, I plan rides for certain early mornings or with friends. It’s a scheduled activity. But today, with my bike fresh from a tire tune-up on the back of my car, I decided to deviate from my to-do list in favor of what felt right, and it was worthwhile. What a change of pace, what a pleasant reminder of the control we have over our own destinies. 
I strapped my bike to the trunk of my car. I kept my headphones in.
“I’m not a self-help book; I’m just a fucked up kid.
I had to take my own advice and I did.
Now I’m waiting for it to sink in.

Expect me standing tall, back against the wall,
‘Cause what I learned was
It’s not about forcing happiness;
It’s about not letting the sadness win.
” 

~Local Man Ruins Everything 
The Wonder Years, Suburbia, I’ve Given You all and Now I’m Nothing