I knew as soon as the emails started flying yesterday afternoon that I’d probably be riding alone last night. The excuses were flying fast and loose with pretty much everyone deciding they were too sick or too tired or too whatever….and that was ok with me.
There was no way that, after surviving Christmas and the week that followed, I was going to not ride. You see, riding for me is about so much more than exercise….for me, its therapy, anti-depressants, exercise, self esteem classes and anger management all rolled into one nice little ball of pain and suffering…..
As I arrived at the parking lot Jer and Bob were coming up the hill having just finished their loop. We also ran in to Raj who I haven’t seen in a while, but has been riding pretty regularly. After chatting a bit they went home and I headed out on the trail. The sun had gone down and the fog had rolled in, and although a bit damp, the weather was perfect for the base layer, long sleeve jersey and shorts I had on.
The first section, although not having any long climbs has a couple of short steep sections that got the legs warmed up and the heart pounding. It’s here that I check in for my appointment with the therapist. The short climbs allow me to focus on my stress, anger, anxiety, whatever and really try to kill myself in an effort to flush out the system. There’s no time for thinking or rationalizing…it’s just a brute force attack on my body to get the blood flowing….
Later as I start up Brandon, the therapy takes a different tack. It’s a long slow grind that allows me to push myself but also provides time to be a little more contemplative. I try to keep a pace that while keeping my heart rate up, also allows me to think about things and process all the crap that keeps bouncing around in my head. It’s actually a balancing act….too fast and hard and all I can think about is the pain, too slow and I feel like I’m wasting my time….
I arrive at the top of Brandon pretty well spent and ready to allow my heart to recover. It’s here that I usually begin actually enjoying the ride. Tonight, it’s here that I realize just how dark it is….and how alone I am….better reel in the attitude and slow things down a bit on the downhill….a crash out here would really ruin my evening.
I continue on through the ups and downs, passing lots of deer and an enormous owl, until eventually coming to a point where with the moon trying to peek out of the fog above me and the lake below me I pull over, turn off my light and let the quiet and the darkness envelope me. The sense of calm and quiet is almost overwhelming. Gone are the emotions, the frustrations and the stress of the week replaced instead by a feeling of contentment and thankfulness for the blessings in my life that allow me to get out on my bike on a fairly regular basis.
Eventually I mount back up, turn on my light and begin the rest of the ride. From here back, it will be about exercise, pushing my legs and my lungs to the point of failure in the hopes that this is making me stronger and faster, better able to keep up with the group on our next ride…..
As I eventually make it back to the marina, it dawns on me that I haven’t seen one other person the entire loop. This is strange as I always see other riders and/or hikers. Even the fishing docks normally busy in the evening with those that are still willing to exercise their right to go out and kill their dinner, are quiet tonight….it could be that it’s cold and damp and dark or it could be that the universe has decided that tonight, more so than most other nights, I needed to be alone…completely and totally alone as I swept out the cobwebs, crap and trash from the upstairs storage….