Checked the tires. Helmet on. Out before dawn.
A pre-sunrise neighborhood bike ride was on the docket. Thirty minutes. Easy peasy. Just cruising to get the blood flowing early on a Sunday.
I live at the top of a hill. So the very first thing I get to do is fly. Fly down the hill, wind in my face, breathing deep. Yes, all you Safety Susies, I left my Airpods at home so I could pay closer attention to any traffic at the early hour. As a side benefit I also enjoyed the sounds of the crickets. The frogs. The quiet of morning. A line from a poem came to mind…”to be the only one awake in a house wrapped in sleep.” There is a special peace in that (and maybe a few giggles thinking how many safety cameras I was tripping off.)
Once the wind hit my face on that downhill I remembered how much I love my road bike. Just getting going on it makes me smile but flying down a hill is such a special feeling of freedom. So it makes no sense that I don’t ride more often. I only get out once a month or so. I keep saying I am going to do a triathlon this year. But I realized I am in a mode where the distance between what I say I want to do and what I actually do is great. I want to slim down to feel better but I don’t adjust my nutrition to achieve that. I want to write more but don’t take the time. I want to express gratitude to people who have helped me but the thank you cards still sit in their wrapper. Something I thought about as I rolled under the streetlamps.
Back to biking…I have been doing an endurance program at the gym once a week on a stationary bike. It’s been good for my pacing and endurance control. I tell myself it’s triathlon training. But it doesn’t replace time on an actual road on a bike.
When it comes to the road bike, I hate the uphills. I fumble with the gears trying to make my legs hurt less. My neighborhood is basically all hills of various lengths and gradients. (This is one reason why I sometimes don’t get on my road bike. It takes time and effort to transport it to a flat course.) But as I was riding this morning, I embraced the hills. I took my time getting up them. I sat with the pain instead of resisting it. And then, I enjoyed the coast down the other side. The reward for the work. The time to breathe.
I thought about many friends who I know are facing that big hill in their lives. With a job. With a family member. With a relationship. With themselves. They don’t want to climb it. They would rather go around or just stay put. (This is me, too! In more areas than I’ve even shared.) The only way to get that feeling of freedom is to do the work of getting up the hill. Some times of life are just smooth effort, puttering along on the flats, enjoying the scenery. But exhilaration, the relief, the satisfaction of wind at my face comes after I’ve pushed myself through a challenge. Time to summit the hills I’ve just been staring down, hoping they will disappear. I have been given these mountains to show they can be moved, as they say. Or, so that I can enjoy the beauty and freedom of the other side.