Monday, November 19, 2018

Thankful for Bicycles

My foot hovered over the pedal of the bike, brain hesitating, unsure of whether or not I really wanted to set out in the cold. As I stood shivering on a cloudy, thirty-degree day, I questioned my sanity for a brief moment. Four brown eyes, attached to two furry pups, stared out at me from inside the house. The warm house.  It'd be so much nicer to snuggle up with them, I thought. There was a stack of dishes in the sink, a house begging to be cleaned, and a dozen other various "things" that needed to be accomplished, but none of that mattered. My leg pressed down on the pedal and I was off.

Fall is a banner time for me to ride. Nearly without fail, October and November tend to be the months I ride the most throughout any year. Even though the weather is entirely unpredictable during these two months, I find myself wanting to push and/or see what I can accomplish before the end of the year. In part, I ride more during these months because of that desire to give it my all before the year runs out, but it's also when I feel most connected to my environment and have settled into my bikes. It's that time before I know it will be difficult to find a day to ride that doesn't include iced-over roads or that isn't so cold I have to talk myself into even wanting to step outside.

On this day, as I set out, the air is beyond brisk. Somehow, when the sun isn't shining, low temperature days feel inequitably colder. My bones feel chilled, even with enough layers. Still, I have this unspeakable desire to be outside and to pedal out the chaos of thoughts running through my head. There's something of beauty in the rhythmic patterns of turning a bicycle crank that evens out all the other disorder in life.

Normally one to avoid climbing, I'm craving it today. I head in the only direction that will almost immediately have me head up a hill. Huffing and puffing, my body pushes to turn the crank, and slowly I make my way upward. My mind is telling me I can fly up the relatively brief incline, but as reality sets in, I have to make peace with my idealized self and the far more harsh reality.

I briefly chastise myself for not working harder through the summer and even years prior, and then ultimately relax and allow my body to work its way through the task. Berating myself will accomplish nothing. I continue to work, now in intervals, pushing as hard as possible for 20 seconds and then soft-pedaling for 40 seconds. This becomes its own rhythm through the ride that requires my sole focus. The thoughts that had occupied my mind just a few minutes prior have no space in this place. They are forgotten memories, or at least temporarily belayed, that do not require my immediate attention.

The wheels are flying, almost floating, breezing over whatever comes into view. Golden-red, deep green and brown leaves litter the path, creating shapes and patterns, images that my mind attempts to make sense of without success. The cold air freezes my face, but I can't help but let out a smile. My legs feel made of steel and simultaneously light as feathers. I could ride this way forever. There's a perfect cadence, whether softly pedaling or pushing, that seems to be bringing together a sublime pace. All that exists here in this time is euphoria.

It's one of the reasons I ride -- for these flashes in time that feel inexplicably perfect, when life melts away and the only thing that exists is a moment that makes me feel like a superstar cyclist that I definitely am not.
*Image can be found on this site
In the days leading up to Thanksgiving here in the US, I am grateful for a body that allows me to move (even if it has hiccups or doles out pain at times), for bicycles that allow me to transport myself with relative ease to get where I need to go and/or for sport (and often for head-clearing purposes too), and for those who continue to travel along life's journey with me.

May this autumn season bring you closer to those you love and provide a generous allowance of time for riding your bicycle(s). Happy Thanksgiving to all who read here on E.V.L.


  1. Happy Thanksgiving. What a beautiful reflection. It's funny how often I step out into cool weather thinking "what am I doing? This is going to be miserable." A minute or two into the ride, though, all of that is forgotten. My muscles are warmed up, my sense are awake, and my mind is utterly in the moment. I'm grateful for that and for so much more.

    1. So true... sometimes just getting out is the most difficult part. :)

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Kendra!


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