It’s December 22. It’s winter. But…since I live in Florida I went for a bicycle ride. It’s like, 80 degrees outside and sunny, with a nice breeze that’s no so nice when it’s in my face trying to stop me from pedaling.
But I digress.
I like to ride at least ten miles when I ride. It’s a nice round number. It takes some creativity to reach that distance in the neighborhood where I live, without just riding on the road and risking getting vehicular-manslaughtered by a Floridiot. I like to ride on the walking trails — essentially sidewalks through the woods — because there’s no traffic except foot traffic, and because I like to look at the scenery, and because it’s more fun to have some twists and turns that make me actually control the bike.
And, ten miles lets me find peace. I think joggers call it the “jogger’s euphoria.” I don’t know if it’s euphoric, but it’s peace — it’s when my mind is done thinking and just exists in the moment, and I am doing nothing but riding a bicycle and enjoying the experience. Today, it happened at mile 7.5.
Usually, I start out riding, and I think over all the stuff that happened in the past week, and the things I said to people, and conversations I had. Then I think about the upcoming week, and work assignments and, this week…Christmas and cooking and stuff. I’ll have a song playing over and over in my head, or some snippet of a song. I’ll think about the repairs my car needs. I’ll think about…well, just stuff. My brain is just busy.
Then at some point, (mile 7.5 today) I’ll realize that I’m listening to the wind in my ears. And. Nothing. Else. My mind has finished thinking about all the things it wanted to think about. Then in addition to the wind chuckling in my ears, I hear the tires humming on the concrete, and the thump of the sidewalk cracks. I hear the crackling of leaves as my tires crunch over them, and the whirr of the chain as I pedal. I hear the tinkling of the leaves in the trees around me, and the sound of kids playing in the houses I ride past.
I smell the smells of the area, too. The woody live oaks, the nasty poop-water the neighborhood calls “reclaimed” and waters the shrubs with. I smell the soft scent of gardenia. (or jasmine…some flower anyway) The scents are as much a part of a ride as the sounds.
I don’t put on an iPod (or Walkman, cause I’m that old) and tune out the world — I’m not criticizing those who do, because lots, LOTS of people do that — because that’s not what I’m after. I don’t want to drown out everything…I want to let it in and experience it.
I don’t ride to show off my gear; I don’t ride to go farther, or faster; I don’t ride to hang out with people; I don’t ride to go get an expensive, fatty Starbucks drink. I don’t dress up in Spandex and helmets.
I ride because I love it, and it brings me peace.