Evening Light

I was out on a ride the other night. Nothing new there. I ride as much as I can. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday Saturday and Sunday are almost always reserved for a ride. Sometimes short.. well, most days on the shorter side and some longer days thrown in there when time permits. Monday’s and Thursday’s are dedicated to the weight room for strength training. That’s been like that since the fall of 1990. I was a freshman in High School, coming out of a Junior Varsity Football season and the biggest lesson I learned was that if I wanted to be a Varsity letterman, and be competitive on the field, I HAD to be in the gym and building strength to stay healthy. As the saying goes, or rather the Scout Oath: “On my Honor, I will… keep myself physically fit, mentally awake…” These two parts of the Scout Oath have always rung deep to me mentally. (The parts omitted do as well, especially the “Morally Straight” portion.)

Part of that mantra was and always has been riding my bicycle. I found it a way of repose. A way to collect thoughts. A way to work and see through problems. A way to discover strengths and a method to strengthen weaknesses. Apart from all that, it was first and foremost a way to let go, focus only on the task at hand and rip the line in front of me. Nothing else matters when I’m seated on my bicycle. Nothing, I tell you. That I can guarantee. Most rides I find large portions lost of thought and in a zone of action/reaction. I’ve been riding for over 25 years. Technical sections are a way for me to challenge myself but also relax. Those two things don’t necessarily fit in the same sentence I suppose, but for me they go hand in hand when a bicycle is beneath me. Early on in the 90’s I’d find myself out on my bike, post 4 quarters of a football game, riding but riding through what I just did or did not do. I’d think about the plays. I’d reflect on my mistakes. I’d reflect on what I had accomplished and make mental notes for what I had to do next to improve. Then tackle a line and be thought free.

See, my rides had about a 5-10 mile pedal from my doorsteps to the trail head I frequented (which were a stones throw from Grandmom’s house outside of town). The trails around “The Lake” also were on much of previously held family farm land. One thing to note is that growing up in my area of Pa, it was relatively quiet outside of town. Cars were really infrequent. I can recall sitting in front of Grandmom’s when I was really little and wait to see my mom’s yellow car come across the bridge to pick me up after Grandmom had watched me for the day. When I discovered trails that wrapped around Grandmom’s, well… there was no need to own a car. No need to go distances. I loved spending time at Grandmom’s and well this was a place I could get close to all that and be on my bicycle.

So things really haven’t changed all that much I suppose. Trails are just out the door. Stone’s throw away. I head out for a ride by myself every so often (most rides are with my pup Kaya). When I’m out there, all is forgotten. When I am on my way to the trail head, or mid ride, I’m thinking through problems. Thinking through solutions. Understanding accomplishments and working through weaknesses. Some things don’t change too much from when I was a teen. Sometimes I’m struck with the past of course. The 5-10 mile pedal still exists. These are just different roads but the path is still the same: Self reflection, self analysis, achieve the mental state where all things melt away. Riding has never been about competition. It’s as far away from that as I am from the moon perhaps. It’s about the challenge of the line. It’s about perfecting my lean through the turn. Carving the ever elusive “dab-less” ride. Some rides that happens, others well it’s more elusive. But it’s about having fun first and foremost. However, riding happens out of sheer NEED. I need to ride. I have to ride. It’s how I recharge. It’s how I reflect. It is and that’s good enough for me.