Yesterday was a good day.
I slept in and had some coffee.
Then I had more coffee and a sandwich while sitting in the sun and listening to a woman next to me read aloud from Tina Fey’s autobiography.
She was reading to a woman in a wheelchair hooked up to a feeding tube.
The both laughed out loud whenever the book got “raunchy”.
I laughed too, silently.
I was reading 100 Years of Solitude .
The barista asked me if I like the book and I smiled and said yes.
She said that she enjoyed Gabriel Garcia Marquez and wound up looking into more “Latin-American authors”.
Another barista gave me a book about wilderness awareness and survival.
It was the start to a good day.
Then I decided to go for a bike ride.
I spent 45 minutes uploading photos to my Tumblr blog while trying to decide which bike to ride. Fast and light, with tubulars and spandex? Heavier and not as fast, with casual clothes and camera equipment? Hmm . . . decisions, decisions. In the end, the spandex won because I felt like dressing like a super hero.
Sometimes I wish that spandex bike kits came with capes and masks. That would make my day.
I headed out on a loop that Steve and I call the “Keith Loop”. We call it that because we call each other “Keith” and we both love that loop. It’s almost 60 miles and includes plenty of scenic vistas and gravel roads. How can you not like that?
20 miles in to the ride I had “good sensations in my legs”, to quote Alexandre Vinokourov. I’ve been riding a lot lately and finally feel like it’s paying off.
Over the past couple of years, as I have gotten away from BMX-type trick riding and more into road, I’ve watched my fitness come and go. It seems like every summer it comes back, only to be lost in the duldrums of fall and winter.
I’m starting to think that my fitness is directly related to color and that greys and blacks take it away, while yellows, blues, greens, reds, and pinks help to nourish it.
Or maybe it’s my general state of well-being that is related to color? If that is the case, I wonder why I wear so much grey and black . . .
Riding on gravel with 85 PSI in your tires is a joy that can only be understood when one has experienced it. I passed plenty of people on their “mountain” bikes riding the gravel trail. To some it may seem odd that I choose to ride a rigid bicycle with itty-bitty tires on terrain that many think you need suspension and thick, knobby tires for. But some people think that it’s odd to hunt animals with a bow instead of a rifle. Were I a hunter, I would prefer a bow . . . or maybe a spear.
I have this problem where I overestimate how fit I am and then wind up running myself into the ground 3/4 of the way through a ride.
That happened yesterday.
Somewhere between Woodinville and Kenmore, I hit a wall.
Not a literal, physical wall.
I just couldn’t keep going at the pace that I had been up until then.
But that is where the beauty of the sport lies for me. It’s quite apparent when you are cruising along with a tailwind at your back and the sun in your face, with a beautiful view of a sparkling lake on your side. It’s a whole other thing when your legs are burning from the lactic acid buildup and your lower back aches from being haunched over for too long.
It’s in those moments when you can’t stand to have your hands on the handlebars any longer, so you sit up and that’s even worse.
It’s in those moments when you have to ride up a steep hill at the end of a long and hot ride just to get home.
It’s in those moments when you think you have another gear left, but when you try to shift you find out that you are already in your lowest gear.
It’s in those moments that the beauty of riding a bike isn’t fleeting.
It’s in those moments when the beauty is so painful and in your face that you can’t help but smile.
A smile that is more grimace than smile, but a smile nonetheless.
It’s in those moments that all thoughts leave my head and I’m left feeling empty and fulfilled.
It’s in those moments that I want to keep on going and going, even though my body is saying “no”.
It’s in those moments that water becomes an elixir.
It’s in those moments that a red light up ahead is a god-send.
It’s in those moments that I get passed by rollerbladers.
It’s in those moments that I laugh and love life.
It’s in those moments that I am alive, just like every other day.