Sometimes you have to stand up on the pedals. It’s a long title for a blog post, I’ll admit. It also has more meaning than just bicycling, though that’s where it stems from.
I like bicycling. I do it when I can, which is not often enough, if my midsection is any indication. I’m not one of those Spandex-sausages on an overpriced carbon-fiber rocket-bike, though. Sometimes I ride my late-1980’s mountain bike (no suspension, GASP!) and I go fast-for-me, which is not all that fast. Sometimes I like to ride this bike:
I built that bicycle with my own hands, and it’s a blast to ride. It’s not fast, and it creaks and rattles, and it’s not even very comfortable…but I like it. And when I coast, I stand up on the pedals. It makes me about seven feet tall when I do.
And every time I do that I think: “Sometimes, you have to stand up on the pedals.” It has a sort of a Ferris Bueller-esque feeling to it. You know, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Standing up on a bike’s pedals is dumb. You become a big sail and slow the bike down. You’re more likely to hit your head on a tree branch. You could easily go right over the handlebars. Spandex sausages NEVER stand up on the pedals, because it’s inefficient and counterintuitive. Could be sub-optimal. (oh no!) And that’s why you have to do it. Sometimes (most times, really) we get so tangled up in our dramas and stresses that we keep our head down and we push forward, forward…always forward — take the quickest route home from work, cook the quickest meal for dinner, eat as quick as possible, do the dishes as fast as we can so we can get the kids in bed and get ourselves to bed as fast as we can…so that we can wake up and shower as fast as we can…
You get the point.
Sometimes you have to stop doing that. You have to pop your head up and feel the wind in your hair. Or in your ears if you’ve chosen to shave your head. You need to stand up on the pedals so that you feel seven feet tall, and like you’re flying, man. It’s the things that don’t make sense that remind us that we’re alive.
Can you tell me what you thought of the sunset last night? You can’t, can you? It was right there, on the western half of the sky, but if it was like most nights you put down the sunvisor if you had to drive into it, or ignored it if you drove home the other way, and completely ignored it as you rushed along your life’s path. And what happens if you DO stop to look at the sunset? I know, people stare at you and think you’re a bit daft. Let ’em. It’s worth it for sunsets like the one I had last night:
I mean, really, isn’t that gorgeous? I got stared at by the drivers of cars driving by as I snapped that photo. They were in such a hurry to get out of the Publix with their milk or crab cakes or whatever that they stared at the guy with the red bike and camera-phone, instead of THAT sunset that was right in front of them.
Don’t do that. Maybe just don’t do that tonight. Look at the sunset on the way home. Stand up on the pedals.