Saturday, April 2, 2011

A very long tale of riding

I've been riding my bike again lately. Riding it obsessively, because that's just what I do. If I like something I get obsessed and can't think of much else except what it is I am obsessed with. It happened with veggie burgers, TCBY, Lays baked chips, green tea, white tea, chai tea, coffee, espresso, hummus, Bruce Springsteen, Mumford and Sons, David Sedaris. The list goes on and as you can see it mostly all has to do with food, beverages, musicians and hilarious writers. Trust me, there are much worse things to be obsessed with than the previous list.

Riding a bike is the one thing in my life that I mastered on the first try. I think this is the reason I like it so much. I was five years old and spotted a bike on our front dirt. I can't call it a front lawn as we were the sort of children who played hard and didn't allow grass to grow. Anyway, I saw the bike and noticed that no one was around, and because I didn't want to make a fool of myself in front of anyone else I figured I would take the opportunity to get on and see what happened. I rode all the way over to my Nana's apartment without falling. It was completely exhilarating and I was hooked. And then I was mad that there were no witnesses.

I grew up in an age where parents were smart enough to not sign their children up for any activity that wasn't close enough to walk or ride our bikes to and so those were just about the only ways I knew to get myself around. When I was in high school I managed to become friends with people who had cars and this was quite helpful, but still, I loved riding my bike.

When I got my first job that paid over eight bucks an hour I saved up and bought myself an expensive Trek mountain bike. I rode all over the place, mostly on deserted country roads that were definitely not the kinds of places a twenty one year old girl should be riding alone. This made my mom nervous which I think was the reason I did it. And yes, I am sure I will be paid back in kind by my own children.

I dreamed about going cross country on my Trek. Like most of my dreams, I had no real plan and sort of just hoped this would happen on its own and when it didn't I forgot about it and went about my life. I got married, moved a lot, had children and the only bike I rode for a while was a stationary bike that I loved for the sole reason that riding it everyday for an hour helped me lose every bit of the weight I gained when I had gotten pregnant.

It wasn't the same though and when we moved to Burlington I started riding outside again - that is until I took an awful spill and almost landed head first directly into a tree. I was shaken and for quite some time I didn't ride and when I did, it was only with Greg and the kids.

Once we moved here, a place where the weather is almost always nice enough to ride outside, I got back into it and remembered how much I loved it. The problem of course is that because I am somewhat obsessive I am not happy enough to just ride for an hour. I have to ride for ninety minutes which leads to two hours which leads to two and a half hours which leads to a very sore arse and bizarre tan lines.

At the very least, all of my obsessive riding has taught me some important things and I will share them with you now. Bring enough water or risk hallucinating, wear sun block or risk getting an awful burn, turn around after an hour because if you don't you will just want to keep going and chances are you have people waiting for you at home who love you and may even miss you if you don't come back (unless you were in a really bad mood when you departed and in that case, stay out as long as possible). When your butt gets sore, you are better off just sitting through it because if you stand up and then sit back down on your bike seat it will hurt approximately one hundred times more than it originally did.

Another thing I learned. Lake County is gorgeous. There are hundreds of bikes routes to ride and you will be unable to stay in a foul mood if you happened to have been in one when you left, not that I would know anything about foul moods as I am mostly a sunshiny type person. Truthfully, whatever I am feeling when I leave for my rides I couldn't really tell you because by the time I get home I am completely exhausted in the best possible way. And every time I go out I am convinced at some point in that ride that during this lifetime I will make my way across the country on my bike. That's what riding does for me. It make me crazy and delusional and happy and completely thankful to be alive.