My mom took Soph to church today, so, after popping some clothes in / out of the wash, firing up the dryer, I decided to treat myself to another bike ride. I took the mountain bike out, rode it down the front steps to the sidewalk. Glanced at my $7 watch (never did get a new one)…… 1:30 p.m. I started pedaling up the street, uphill, to the first right turn. Still going easy, just warming up…. take the right and begin to pedal harder. Legs are beginning to protest, as if saying “what the hell is this??”…. Up a few streets, past the last house, the one with all the goofy yard decorations, including a full size native american on a full size horse?
? looks to be bronze??? down to the end of the road, onto the trail into the woods. Instantly the bright sun disappears, and I am on an old logging road, zigging back and forth around washouts. The bright sky is replaced by the canopy of trees, and patches of sun that manage to filter through dappling the ground. Up the long slight incline to the section where kids have built a freestyle bmx park, with probably 30 to 50 huge clay ramps. I go left up a steeper incline, bypass the park…. I do realize my jumping days are long behind me…crank across to the next gravel logging road….. legs seem to have woke up now. I take the right and begin to upshift and put the power down. Up out of the saddle, the legs feel warmed up. Dodge right around a puddle on the path. A squirrel runs across the path ahead, never hearing my approach until I am just about on him. A few hundred yards on the path comes to a fork, I sweep left and burst out of the woods into a cleared meadow, to the right a marsh full of cattails. Again I’m out of the saddle, letting the bike float and soak up the bumps, going downhill. I notice that the wind feels funny going through my hair- or new lack of it. Even at speed I notice a yellow butterfly (moth?) cross the path in front of me, then a big grasshopper alights just in front of me. The path now veers hard left and downward, steep….. I think to myself that I will be paying for this downhill on the return trip. Hard on the brakes, down to lower gears, I roll down the turn over loose rocks. into a field, freshly mowed. Houses a hundred yards away, back to civilization. I turn around and climb back to the meadow, no interest in seeing houses. Back through the meadow, up to the fork in the path, swinging left this time to a climb I made yesterday, the one that looked so impossible. The path is a huge rock, with no soil and with loose baseball sized rocks strewn about. Heck, made it yesterday. I gather speed then downshift at the last second, and again rise out of the saddle. Shifting my weight, forward, left, back, whatever it takes to keep the traction on that back tire. Make it to a few yards short of the 100 foot climb and the legs just quit on me. Drop off the pedals and push the last few yards. Shit. Made it yesterday. Oh well. I notice one of those brown and black wooly-bear caterpillars on the path, the ones that are supposed to forcast next winter by the size of their stripe. Except this one is all brown, no stripe?
I take a few moments to wait for my breathing/ gasping to subside (man gotta lose dem cancer sticks for sure) and climb back on and begin to pedal to keep the lactic acid in my legs from going into cramp mode. Gradually up the gears on the back chainring to top, and back to business. Down the gravel logging road, past an old man out for a walk, then hard on the brakes and downshifting to take the left to the bmx area. Zig around the jumps, and take the right, back onto the sun-dappled washout road. Out of the saddle again, into top gear on the rear chainrings, down to the end of the path to the pavement. back into the sunlight, passing the house with the perfectly manincured lawn an crazy-ass lawn ornaments (does he really need a half size cast iron cannon in his front yard? What the hell?)
Now really accellerating through the front chainrings (gee, sure am thirsty) up to top gear. A girl in a car pulls out of a sidestreet, never sees me, as, she never friggen’ looked in the first place. She slams on the brakes when halfway in the road and strangely, I fell no impulse at all to flip her the bird. I dart around to the left and then take the next left down the paved alleyway, downwill, top gear, cranking as fast as I can. Hard on the brakes at the bottom, downshift, take a right and go down two streets to the paved alleyway behind my house. The odd neighbor a few houses down is out working on his psycadellic camoflage speedboat on the trailer, I wave then a few houses later take the left into my backyard, rolling between the pickup truck and bus, down through the back yard to the front yard. I glance at my watch, it’s 1:48pm. Holy crap. 18 minutes? It sure felt like longer! I ride a little more up and down the street to let the legs cool off to prevent cramps, thinking to myself, what was my excuse, all these years? I couldn’t find 18 minutes a day, a week, a month, to go out and experience such joy?
Now I feel the sweat come, and I feel absolutely parched. Into the house for a few glasses of water, and back to the laundry.