With just a handful of days until the 2016 Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling Festival kicks off, I find myself with a few minutes of quiet in my head and my breaths are deep and calm. (And if you know me, even just a little, you know those moments are scarce. But even bumblebees need to be still every now and then.) It’s in these rare, peaceful moments that I’m not thinking about nutrition, or training, or equipment, or Garmin, or even my bicycle. I’m thinking about what a great day it will be to: Simply. Ride. Bikes.
I invite you: Take a few moments. Sit with me (albeit virtually.) Let your mind wander to the feeling of cruising along at your own speed. Your body is a few miles into the ride and your arms and shoulders are relaxed. Your legs are warmed up and you’re pedaling effortlessly. Your skin is soaking in the sunshine and if you’re sweating a little, you barely notice because that little bit of wind is juuusssssst right.
You might be riding with your friend. You might be piloting solo. You may have a destination; you may not. Maybe you’re climbing and your eyes are focused on the pavement four and a half feet ahead of you. Maybe you’re on a county road and you can smell the hay. There are no cars, no traffic signs to slow you down. Feel the ever-so-small vibrations of the tires on the pavement. Nothing matters but this moment and the feeling of being alive. The feeling of your body working effortlessly, the beauty and miracle of the human machine. Everything about this ride is as natural and effortless as blinking your eyes. This ride is perfectly idyllic.
It’s time to rest for a few minutes. You can feel your body absorb the refreshment as you drink. A handful of pistachios and cranberries is savory and sweet; it tastes pretty good after riding for miles. During this serene interlude, you notice the wildlife. It notices you right back. It looks at you, considers, then resumes with the business of the day. The ant on the pavement at your feet picks up the crumb you dropped. The morsel is awkward and unwieldy, but the critter carries it away, into the dirt shoulder and disappears under the rough, tarred edge of the asphalt.
The sun has shifted positions in the sky. (“How did it do that? Have I really been riding that long?”) You reflect upon how we live on just the very crust of the earth and wonder at the miraculous diversity of our natural habitat. Sleeping Indian, Pikes Peak, Longs Peak, Castlewood Canyon. The hills where they meet the plains. The wind and the water, and how they’ve shaped and reshaped the very ground we’ve been walking, riding and building on for centuries.
Ready to pedal again, you’re back in the saddle. Moments before pushing off, you feel extraordinarily inspired: “I can go anywhere on my bicycle. Where shall I go now?”
I’ll let you think about that awhile.
Be safe. Ride bikes. Be happy. Have fun.
See you on June 5th.