It seems mellows have been harshed around here whilst I hopped on the big bird and flew east.
Can’t say I care very much, to be honest.
Here on the east coast, the woods are brown, the sky is gray, and the living’s pretty good. Strange to think that such dingy colors can actually look somewhat beautiful. Perhaps I’ve been out west long enough to finally appreciate the starkness of it all. I couldn’t help but wish I had a bike here in Upstate New York to hit the trails and listen to the crunch o’ the leaves beneath the tires.
Mostly I’ve only heard the crinkle of the wrapper on my Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast dreck.
I do miss dear Arizona, and whilst I play photographer in Connecticut starting tomorrow, it seems the snow is flying in Flaggle Rock. Before I left, I went for a ride up and up and up. I rode to one of my favorite trails–Orion Springs–and froze my ass off in the process. Up high, snow already dots the woods. At my mom’s house in CT, the Christmas tree is already up and decorated.
What have we done?
It’s easy to forget we’re all here for the same reason. On the bike, we forget ourselves. Maybe for the race. Maybe for the solitude. Maybe for the burning lungs. Doesn’t really matter. There’s a trail, so we ride it. There’s a pedal, so we push it. If we saw each other as it is now–that is, we don’t know each other, wouldn’t recognize each other in a crowd–we would push each other on, give each other the right of way, nod in each other’s direction because, hell, we’re all on two wheels, so why not?
About five years ago, right before I moved to Arizona, I was riding my road bike in Connecticut. It was December. Ice. Snow. Cold. I wore every layer of cycling clothing I owned. I had been living in Maine, so the weather actually seemed quite comfortable…but I shivered, because wind sucks anyway.
Around a corner, a patch of ice seemed like the immediate danger. It wasn’t. I am still amazed at how quiet an SUV can be when it sneaks up behind you. Lady behind the wheel didn’t see me, hit me hard enough to put me on her hood. I’ve never been a fan of flying, and that day reinforced the notion. I flew. Into the woods. between two trees. When I landed softly in leaves and snow, I looked up to see nothing. The SUV was not there, and in a moment of self-doubt, I wondered if I had been hit at all. If I had just hit that patch of ice and dreamed it.
No dream. SUV was on her way down the road. Never stopped. Not even brake lights in the distance.
I was fine.
Not a scratch on me.
Just a reminder from on high that riding alone is dangerous, and people don’t care.
If you had been there with me, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten hit.
You know, because we’re on the same side.
Because there’s strength in numbers.
Because ten riders riding together is better than one riding alone. Even better when we’re all riding in the same direction.
And because riding is not war. It is not hunger. It is not disease and genocide and firing weapons and everything we are told to fear. It is nothing. Just two wheels. And us. It’s us. Grab an identity and we’ll share it. We won’t fight wars, we won’t save the day. We’ll just ride bikes. The term ‘lighten up’ gets thrown around a lot on this site. Don’t lighten up. Bear down and sit in. Winter’s coming and you’ll need your senses about you.
While I’m recommending things you should do, do this:
–Pick up a copy of ‘Hearts in Atlantis’ by Stephen King. You mighty warriors who fight in the comments section might enjoy it.
–Listen to Florence + The Machine. Good set o’ lungs on that girl.
–Stay out of the granny gear today.
–Stay away from Dunkin’ Donuts today.
–Tell me it’s okay to lose at Poker, because I do it so often. And so well.
–Watch out for big vehicles.by