All things bike which in retrospect garnered a great deal of my attention during the past ten years or so, had been pushed aside since the beginning of the year. 2011 is just under 40 days old by now, and I think I have gone on two proper rides. Sure getting to and from school, friends’ houses, and bars was done by pedal, but I’m talking about throwing a leg over the bike and pedaling for over an hour. One of those rides where your mind starts out as a jumbled mess of shit, full of things to do, bills to pay, and problems to solve, all bouncing around in your head. By the end of the ride you haven’t figured it all out, but at least all the tasks do not seem as daunting as they once did. Fuck a training ride, I prefer to call those rides my “life tonic”, a magic elixer that makes life that much better. A ride like this was my top priority once I got back to Fort Collins.
That just about sums up how I felt when I got back home.
Like I said earlier I had pushed those types of rides to the back burner to get my masters project kicked off. This year has been dominated by the preparation for a trip down to Yuma, to pick and set up specific sites, and starting to collect the data. Two weeks of planning, and three weeks of field work have filled me up with plenty of “are you fucking kidding me”, “let’s get this show on the road”, and “i need a beer” moments. At times there was not a drink strong enough to calm my nerves, so the only logical solution was multiple drinks. We were working down at the Yuma Proving Grounds, and let me tell you few things in life can compare to working on one side of some mountains, and hearing large explosions on the other side of those mountains. The combination of being really excited and scared shitless is rather unique. Ah such is life down in Yuma, never a dull moment with constant reminders of explosions, unmanned aircraft tests, and the occasional tank crossing. The trip did have it’s positives, like collecting a bunch of data for my thesis, spending my days outside in near perfect weather conditions, and achieving the state of mind, where “work” doesnt feel like work at all. I also had the opportunity to experience “America” by hanging around at a trailer park drinking cans of Budweiser, knowing that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were turning over in their respective graves.
Once I got back, a bike ride was in order, and I’m convinced that the powers that be were doing all they could to stop this. Saturday night saw a light snow fall, Sunday morning had strong winds to go along with the wet roads from the melting snow, and finally once I got my shit together for a ride I noticed that my new roommate’s dog had chewed off some of the straps on my shoes. None of these hurdles were going to stop me, I mounted my trusty steed, stuck my nose into the wind, and started to pedal. In the beginning there was a bit of awkward feelings, but after a minute the simple movement of making clean pedal strokes with my legs was back. I didnt care where this ride would take me, I was riding my bike and that was enough for me. Eventually I came a stop light, I wondered if I could still track stand while waiting for the light to change to green. Well it wasnt pretty, but I pulled it off, and with my confidence on the rise I made my way away from the sounds, traffic, and distractions. Five weeks of built up stress seemed to melt away, the previous sounds I had become accustomed to like a sledgehammer hitting an electrode, the “beep” of the radar system, and the rattle a toolbox makes as it bounces along on a shitty road were replaced with the smooth buzz of my tires on pavement and dirt roads, my own breath, and a chain which could have used a little bit more lube.
By the standard’s of many this would have been a short easy ride, but for me it was just what I needed. Sure, it would have been nice if the wind wasn’t blowing as strong, the temperature was a few degrees higher, and my legs didnt feel like they were towing an anchor. But I wasnt looking for a perfect ride, I just wanted to go out for any ride, and that is exactly what I got. By the time I got home, I hadn’t made any progress on all of the missed work I now have to catch up on, and all of the new work that I need to start, but all of it felt more manageable. A simple bike ride never felt soo good.by