Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Remember Why I Cycle

Greetings Flashblog readers.  They say great minds think alike, so if you are like me, then you have been wondering where I have been.   Where I have been is not so much on the bike, and I am now working to correct that.  I feel bad about not updating more regularly, but lately I've felt like I've nothing to say other than rant further on other people's bad riding habits or idiots in cars.  That's negative stuff, today I have something positive to say.

Oh man, this winter season has been killing me.  Even though we here in California have been having some of the mildest, driest, warmest weather ever, that has not been enough to get me out.  After the work week,  I awaken most Saturdays listless and unmotivated, and it takes a huge mental effort to gear up and get out the door.  I've put some pounds on.  Every day I feel older.  My better half,  aka Flashette, is a wise woman, and she explained to me that this time of year is a time for our species to hole up indoors to stay warm and survive, a time of reduced activity, of very different biorhythms than when the days are long, and what I am feeling is totally natural.

That's all fine and good, but my real problem is inertia-or more properly- lack of it.  Stasis.  Not doing is a powerful force to undo.  Its so easy to lie on the couch.   Then comes the vicious circle  of knowing that when I do go out it is going to be unpleasant due to my winter softening up, so that keeps me on the couch. Then I start feeling guilty, a little bit of hating myself, etc, etc.  You know how that is.

The last ride of note I had was back in December, when I led a Team Alameda group up Mt. Diablo., no small peanuts ride (see pic at the bottom).  I went a little slower than usual, but made it to the top, so maybe you are thinking I'm exaggerating this falling off the fitness wagon.  I'll just say a lot can happen in 2 months, or in this case, not happen.  Yeah, its important to stay on top of it, fitness is hard to acquire, it takes a lot of time and work to stay in good shape, and I just got a little cavalier about it.

So a few weeks ago I resolved, a tad late for the New Year, but hey, never too late for resolutions, to start riding  both Saturday and Sunday, at least, and hopefully a small ride or two during the week.  So, yeah, it was somewhat unpleasant when I started going uphill.  I would say I had reduced my fitness to "minimum" on my overall performance scale.  Minimum in this case means I could still do the hill ride, but it hurt in a number of different ways, at the time and for a few days after.  But that is still miles ahead of the average person, especially the average person my age, so there's the silver lining.

I've been getting in around 50 miles for the weekends, Sat. in the hills, and Sun. on the flats.  This is working out pretty good, and after only 3 weeks of this I felt much more adept this weekend.  Yesterday I bagged a solo 30 miler with 3200' of hills with some really steep stuff mixed in, and today a brisk 20 mile flat ride in splendid weather.  Which brings me around to the title of this blog.

Again this morning I had to fight myself to get out the door to ride, and then it wasn't until after 11 that I started pedaling.  It didn't take long to find I was feeling good, the legs had life, this perked me up.  My heart was beating around 120 which is comfortable and I felt like my motor was running.  I stopped for a moment at the end of the dock at the USS Hornet.  As I looked out over San Francisco,  a feeling came over me, a feeling of 4th dimensional time-the past and present blending seamlessly-- mixed with nostalgia, and I felt for a moment just as I did as a teenager, a feeling of innocence and wonder and unlimited future potential.   I felt amazed that I was, well, still alive after all this time, and still doing the thing I loved to do then--ride my bike.  It was then I had an epiphany--that my inner child, my past pre-jaded self, still lives within me, a small glowing ember within a large cold fireplace that is adult angst.  I smiled, such a giddy, rare thing, this.

Later, on the same ride, I was circling Bay Farm Island, I spun around a corner to see a vista of shoreline-- bay waters, sparkly sun reflections, trees and bright green lawns,  people walking, cycling, pushing strollers, just enjoying this beautiful day.  All of a sudden I had this Flashback of skiing in Lake Tahoe years ago, the beauty of the mountains, the epic runs and stories, the golden light of the last runs, and it fused- fused with the bike- fused with me--and I felt those memories as this moment-me riding the bike was me skiing, me with my friends back then, me with all the people out on this day.  Synchronicity with the Universe happening!  Damn its good to be alive!   (Don't forget that many people aren't.)  We take it for granted, our health, our happiness, our lives.  I do.  But moments like this remind me of what it actually means to be alive.

So the rarest feelings happen on the most ordinary ride.  The key thing is: they happened on the ride.  If I had stayed at home, given way to statis, I would have felt none of this, I would have most likely felt the opposite, ennui mixed with meaninglessness and guilt.

I'm back.  I remember why I ride.  To remind myself that I am alive and what a gift that is.

Keep pedaling!


Shel (L) and Flash (R) on Flash led Team Alameda ride, Mt. Diablo, CA 12/2012  (photo: Bruce Bothwell)