Before my first truck, a 1976 Chevy, came into my life, I did a lot of something I ought to do now except that I’m too fat and lazy: ride a bicycle.

Incidentally, by first truck I mean first vehicle period. I’ve never owned a car and, Lord willin’, I’ll never have to.

Of course, a good cure for that fatness and laziness that keeps me from riding a bicycle would be to actually ride a bicycle. I know. It’s a vicious, uh, “cycle” ain’t it? 

In those healthy ol’ days, a younger and leaner me would peddle up and down the dusty dirt roads of my native McDonald County, Mo., for no other reason than to explore. I quite literally went all over northwest and north-central McDonald County, but always by dirt road whenever at all possible.

Where I grew up, and especially back then, you could, and can, travel by vehicle the better part of a day on an interconnected network of unpaved roads. Progress, so called, is slowly eroding that fact, but it’s still possible. I was on a bicycle so I didn’t get to cover it all, even after a period of several years.

Half the time I brought along a county road map and half the time I had no idea where I was headed or even where I was, exactly. Somehow I always found a way back home, even if it meant admitting defeat and simply turning around.

The times I didn’t bring a map were the best because it added an element of curiosity. I played games. Sometimes I would tell myself, “Ok, every time you come upon a different road, you’re going to turn on it.”

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