Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Cycling Moment Of Zen

This morning the weather forecast was right on target. The wind was blowing hard and the rain was pouring down. I dressed accordingly and knowing I'd be working against a headwind most of the way, I left ten minutes early.

Turning onto Highway 2, the wind and rain gleefully took on the task of ensuring every pedal stroke required extra effort. An occasional gust tried to freeze me in place and I'd wobble a bit as I struggled to keep my forward motion going. With my head down, I leaned in and slogged on. The rain eventually stopped but only after completely mapping out every gap in my gear. The Anemoi joined forces to hit me head on and make every climb especially arduous. And not without a mischievous sense of humor they'd suddenly change direction, pushing me forward for a moment and then suddenly try to knock me over from the side.

I'm not the strongest of riders, but expending all that effort just to do 10 mph when I normally go 15-20 diminishes the spirit. In spite of leaving early, I still arrived at work 10 minutes later than normal. At the low point of a ride like this, with the rain stinging my face and the wind impeding every advance, I momentarily wondered, "What the heck am I doing out here?" And I quickly reminded myself that all rides are not like this.

Nearly every ride has a something memorable and pleasurable about it. To name a few, there's cruising alongside a rippling golden field of wheat out on the Peone Prairie; passing by a crowded field of sunflowers each one peeping over the other as if in a desperate bid for attention; catching the mouth-watering aroma of a barbecue during the commute home; or spying a blue heron stalking fish on the Little Spokane River.

And then there is sharing these experiences with others. A leisure journey along the Centennial Trail on the tandem with my wife. Family and friends parking at the Bloomsday bike corral and then riding to Grandma's house after the race. The entire family joining the mass of cyclists at Spokefest. Raising a beer to the full moon with other Lifetime Members for Life. The fun and challenging outings with the Spokane Bicycle Club. Taking the family out on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes and stopping for ice cream in Harrison. The Monday morning breakfast and the Friday wrap-up party of Bike to Work Week. And many more.

So I'll accept the occasional lonely, miserable, fatiguing bike ride. It's a small price to pay when I have so much to look forward to.


Pat S said...

Wonderful post, Hank. And a huge attaboy for riding today - nasty, nasty weather.

"Nearly every ride has something memorable and pleasurable about it."

Truer words have never been spoken.

John Speare said...

The crazy wind provided a tailwind for me on the way to work yesterday. It was one of those "man I feel storng today -- I guess I'm in better shape than I though..." rides.

Then the way home was slog against the wind. I was in out-of-the-saddle, in-the-drops mode on Trent, killing myself to go about 8-10 mph. Brutal.