If it was too cold, too hot, too windy, and definitely if it was raining, I wasn’t going. That was my attitude for years when deciding if I was going to head out on my bicycle. But, something changed this past year and I’ve become just shy of obsessed with road cycling.
I don’t experience withdrawal symptoms, but I do get itchy if it’s been more than a week since my last ride. Come to think of it, maybe I just miss wearing those Lycra shorts. (Yes, I do wear all that bike gear and no, there are no photos.)
As I’ve gotten a little bit older I’ve become a lot more self-competitive. That’s what happens when you realize you can’t compete with others like (you thought) you used to, so you figure you can boost your ego competing with yourself instead. For me, this gets a little insane with my bike riding as I’m always looking to increase my mileage or improve my time from the last ride. On top of that, I’m now going out in all kinds of weather, AND I enjoy it!
Here’s the thing: besides the obsessive, insane and obvious insecure reasons that I’m so into this sport there is something amazing, almost euphoric even, about getting out on the country roads not far from my house and seeing the rural landscape at 15mph. I occasionally ride with groups or a few friends but I prefer to ride alone. (Remember that self-competitive problem of mine?) I like riding alone because when I’m alone on a bike I can get completely lost in my thoughts; letting my mind go wherever it wants to go. For someone who relishes in the attention deficit world, this is freedom like no other. I can purposefully slow down my life and absorb everything around me.
Of course, this daydreaming can and does lead to me literally getting lost…but that’s part of the fun too. Farm animals are strangely curious of men is spandex; their gaze always follows me as I ride by. The cows are unimpressed when I moo at them. Dogs must think I work for the post office. They come out from nowhere to get right on my heels and chase me down the road.
The changing sky and sunlight is often hypnotic. Sometimes I’ll stop to take pictures of the landscape or of abandoned buildings or some sign professing that the end of the world is near. And the smells, while certainly not always good, are amazing when a field has recently been plowed or cut.
Recently, I started sharing all this with my son Jameson who has taken up riding after his second ACL tear resulted in being sidelined from lacrosse. He and I rode together in the Austin Livestrong Challenge this fall. Luckily, he takes it easy on me and lets me believe I can still hang with an athletic eighteen year old. Or… maybe I’m still daydreaming.