Anyone who has even glanced at this blog for more than a second or two would surmise pretty quickly that I am a cyclist and that I truly enjoy it. He or she would be correct! In these many blogs over the last year I have explained many many different reasons why I enjoy it. Shoot even the hardest rides, the ones where I am seriously doubting my sanity as I try to defy the pull of gravity, I know I will look back on it the next day and smile.
Some days on the bike are just magical. A long steep smooth downhill run, a great tail wind across a long flat, cooling self-made breeze on a warm day and the sounds of nature when you haven’t seen a car for miles. Any one of these would be enough to make me a cyclist, over and over again.
Yesterday, though I felt something new.
Yesterday was the Chilly Hilly. I spent a lot of time talking about it on the previous post, so I will suffice it to say is a 33 mile, loop around a very hilly island, in February, in Washington State. It was my 8th time doing this ride, and I hit each and every hill better than I had ever done before! I was very happy!
One of the fun things about this ride, is the fact you take a ferry to and from starting line.
On a normal day, bikes get on first, then the cars. With hundreds of bikes needing to load, they first loaded the cars then us. Luckily I hit it just right and I was in the front of the line, this means I got on, got the bike in its spot and made it upstairs in record time.
I went to the cafeteria, got a cup of coffee, and grabbed a table.
My plan was to read the Kindle app on the phone until we got to Seattle. Normally this is a half hour trip, but with this many cyclists loading, I ended up having 45 minutes to sit.
The thing is, I just couldn’t read. I just wanted to sit, and ‘feel.’ OK I know this sounds strange, but I truly had wave of contentment and happiness role over me. I enjoyed the ride immensely, I felt great, I was surrounded by others who had done the same thing, it was a great place to be.
This time I sat and sipped my coffee, stared out the window, tuned out the masses and thought about it. Why was I feeling this way. It wasn’t a major ride, nor a first for me, it was just a training ride with 3000 of my best friends. Then it hit me. Its because I LIKED it. Riding the bike is not working out, or just exercise. Its me letting the instincts take over and flying over the ground.
I honestly could not tell you about every inch of the ride. Every time I looked down, 5 miles or so were gone. I was in the moment and paying attention to the cars and road and other bikers, but I was also watching the birds, breathing the air, and seeing the sights.
I’m a cyclist. I can feel the slightest difference in my tire on the road, squeeze between things barely wider than my panniers and climb any hill they can pave. On a down hill, I “let er buck” squeezing every ounce of speed I can out of it, but knowing just when to apply brakes and reel it back in. I will pull over on a 6 inch shoulder just to see part of the river, or ocean a car never could.
I travel fast enough to get there, but slow enough not to miss anything. Rain or shine, wind or calm, shorts or layered up, on a bike there is no work stress or drama, no worries, just living.
As I sat there on the boat yesterday, sipping bad coffee and watching things go by out the window, that feeling of contentment rivaled a good downhill. As if I needed another reason to do so, this again proved to me that I was meant to be on the back of that bike and pushing it as hard and as far as I can go.
I know getting old scares me, but more than one person has written that the only real time machine is a bike. No matter how old you are, once you are in the saddle, you are that kid that first learned how to ride, that first felt the magic of two wheels and knew he was the wind! Sunday I think I reached back and gave that kid a high five
and told him never to stop riding. And I plan to listen to myself!