I love riding my bike. Even when it's 95 degrees outside and I'm exhausted and riding up someplace like Sugarloaf Mountain ( yes, we have a road in Florida with the word mountain in it) and the top of the hill seems to be getting further away instead of closer; even when my water bottles are empty and I'm miles from anywhere and suddenly starving and wishing I had packed a little sugar, and the sun is beating down on my face and I remember I didn't put sun lotion on, which means my dark spots on my face are going to get darker and my wrinkles are going to come faster, even then I love being on my bike, especially then.
When it rains all day and I can't ride, which happened several times last week, I complain endlessly. I go out into the garage and open the door and pull my bike to the front, like maybe Mother Nature will see me do this and she'll be nice to me and act accordingly. I'll say listen Mother Nature, don't do it for me, do it for my family - you know I will make them suffer if you don't give into my demands. Sometimes Mother Nature can be a real bitch though and she decides she does want them to suffer and the rain just goes on and on. But still, I stand in the garage and stare up at the sky and look for any glimpse of sunlight breaking through. I know, I'm such a hopeful soul!
Last week was a tough one for me and my bike. So much rain. One night after dinner, despite the fact that every news station was reporting storms approaching, I decided I didn't care and was going to take a ride anyway. Greg told me not to go, but I ignored him. I left and headed toward Tangerine and felt like I could will the storms away from my little area. Usually when I try and will things into happening it involves me closing my eyes and holding my breath, which is hard to do on my bike, so I just kept saying over and over, go away rain, go away rain, go away rain. I knew it wasn't working when someone pulled along side me in a car and asked if I was close to home because a big storm was about to hit, to which I could only say, "are you kidding me!? I had no idea! I wish I knew before I left!" It was hard for me to turn around though. Before I left for my ride I spent several minutes mocking Greg and his trust in Doppler radar. Going back home would mean he was right, but I knew if I didn't turn around he would just come looking for me. That's the kind of person he is. Caring, selfless, concerned. I'm the kind of person who would rather risk getting struck by lightening than admit her husband was right, but I turned around and went home anyway.
Sure enough, as I was turning into my street, I saw Greg in his truck headed toward me. He rolled down his window and I rode over to him and in my most serious and sincere tone I asked him if he was going downtown for a walk. I couldn't help myself. I had to keep it up and keep pretending I didn't think it was going to rain. He said, no, he was going out to look for me, and I couldn't resist telling him that the only reason I came back home wasn't because I thought it was going to rain, but because I knew he would be looking for me. I know. I'm not nice at all. I made up for it a couple of days later though when he was leaving to play golf and I asked him if he had lost weight. This made him very happy. And it was true, he did look like he'd lost some weight (which can probably be attributed to my laziness lately regarding meals - we've had salad every night for the past week and half and not much else. And really calling it salad is being generous. It's more like lettuce, with a drizzle of olive oil on top.)
Sometimes I talk about riding my bike and people assume I like it so much because it's relaxing and peaceful and relieves my stress, which is true to some extent, but I'm still Ann Marie when I'm on that bike, which means I still act like the ass I am when I'm not on it ( those last two paragraph highlight this point nicely), just slightly less so. Like last week when an elderly person almost hit me. This happens a lot with the elderlies. It's like they think stop signs and traffic lights are optional. They've lived a long life and I guess at some point they believe they've earned the right to ignore traffic laws. Usually I don't care about having to dodge them, but last week I yelled out, "old people suck!" I knew I should have felt bad for yelling that, but I started laughing at myself instead. Unfortunately I am the kind of person who sometimes thinks old people suck (mostly just when I'm on my bike trying to dodge them) and then I start thinking about all the things that remind me of elderly people, like butterscotch candy and perfect lawns and all the old people at the 4 o'clock Mass on Saturday evening who always leave right after Communion because they need to hurry up to the early bird special. If I'm on my bike having all these thoughts I'm generally filled with a sense of amusement, whereas if I'm off my bike having these same thoughts I feel complete annoyance - not about the butterscotch and perfect lawns, but definitely about leaving Mass early. Obviously being on my bike is beneficial for everyone.
My love of riding means going on Mapquest and spending too many hours looking up every road and trail in my state and figuring out how long it will take me to ride some of those routes. It means being in my car and seeing someone out riding and becoming overwhelmed with jealousy that I'm not out there too. Sometimes I want to roll down my window and just yell, "I love you bike riding person!"( The more intelligent among us call those people cyclists, but I like my phrase better.) It means waking on a Saturday morning and telling Greg, in all seriousness, that I'm just going to take a quick four hour ride - and thinking this is completely reasonable and not understanding why my family thinks I have a slight problem. Mostly though, riding just means a few hours a day of peace and quiet and freedom. That's really all it is for me. Nothing bigger than that.