Why Love is Like Riding a Bike

The Staff of Make it Missoula asked our Bloggers to chime-in for Valentine’s Day. We hope you’ll find of each of them inspiring in their own unique way. Be sure to check out our Valentine’s Day Contest. In 25 words or less, tell us of your most memorable Missoula Valentine and you’ll be entered into a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to The Red Bird Restaurant.


I met my wife when we worked together for a summer at a small New Mexican guest ranch. We were there as part of a college summer staff. I had come out there from Tennessee and she from her college in Iowa. It was obvious to us then that this was more than a summer “fling,” but I had a year of school left and she had two. If we wanted to keep our relationship going and growing, it meant doing that thing – you know – long distance stuff.

I have more than one friend who still cringes when I talk about a long distance relationship, and I bet you do too. It’s certainly not for everyone, but it can work. I also believe, from personal experience, it can provide an enriching foundation for marriage.

When we parted ways at the end of that summer to finish our college educations, Facebook didn’t exist yet, and neither of us had cell phones. Yes, we had email and instant chat, and we had access to a telephone. But what we did to communicate with each, to share our individual lives with each other, was a little old-fashioned – we wrote letters (real letters) and mailed packages (real packages).

We filled boxes with tangible parts of our everyday and sent them with love and stamps. I read and recorded a couple of my favorite books on cassette tapes. She sent ticket stubs from concerts, drawings and pictures. We each took time to decorate the boxes themselves in a “collage of mundane” that told the story of us in a three-dimensional picture. The boxes were treasure stores of love, expression, commitment and, above all, patience.

Learning what we did during those two years of long-distance set the precedent for how we would always strive to communicate with each other – with love and with patience. In today’s age of “instant everything,” it would seem impossible to wait for a printed picture to come in the mail instead of having it pop up on my smart phone two seconds after it was taken. But by design and by choice we wanted something different, something slower.

By now you’re likely wondering what this has to do with biking, and if you are, you’re an astute reader. I believe choosing to ride a bike for transportation is much like having a long-distance relationship. It takes a little longer to get to your destination; it takes commitment to stick with it; and surely it takes patience. Of course, there are cars (I have one), and of course there are technologies that make life go by seemingly faster, but I choose to bike for love and I love to bike.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

(Note: Ryan has temporarily relocated to Boulder, Colorado – with his bike -while his wife studies at the Guild for Structural Integration. He will be writing a few unique comparison posts between biking in Missoula and biking in Boulder. Stay tuned!)


Ryan Newhouse has pedaled through thousands of miles of Missoula’s streets and trails as a commuter, long-distance cyclist, recreationist and former city bicycling ambassador. Although he now works from home, he still uses two feet or two wheels to push or pull himself and his daughter around town.  Back to “Bike It” home page or check out Ryan’s own blog.