Ex-husband-turned-BFF Larry (the man who bought me my bike when I got to goal) and I biked 11 miles in an hour and change. This was down from our usual average of 13 to15 miles in an hour. But my body is different this year and so is my focus. As I said in the little engine blog, “Somewhere in me exists a balance between Hardcore Lynn and I-Don’t-Feel-Like-It Lynn.” Yesterday, I found that balance, and – shockingly – it felt right. The ride was challenging, but not killer, and the best part was that I saw so much more than I ever did peddling 13+ miles per hour.
The Butler-Freeport Community Trail has several trailheads five to15 minutes of my house. I opted for one about six miles west of the start of the trail, which put us in the downhill slope first. Downhill is normally not my favorite starting position on a rails-to-trails trail (I’d rather do the uphill work first), but this was my first ride of the season with a crankier-than-usual body and I had zero confidence that I could bike more than a few minutes or a few miles, especially on an unfamiliar surface – crushed limestone and, in a few places, mud. The trails I cut my biking teeth on in Venango and Clarion counties were paved. I knew that taking it easy the first half of the ride was just plain prudent. (This would be me thinking ahead…looking for balance…I think I can, I think I can…)
I bought a second-hand bike rack last month, one that fits over the spare tire of the Jeep. I’ve never owned a bike rack, nor have I ever attempted to load a bike on to a bike rack. In my bike-riding married past, that was always something Larry did.
Yesterday, however, I read the instructions and put the bike rack securely on the tire AND loaded the bikes AND secured them with bungee cord and a strap AND drove us to the trailhead…with NO major incident. Having this knowledge makes life so much easier. In the past if I wanted to ride my bike alone on a trail, I’d have to stuff it in the back of my Jeep. This took longer than the actual ride, and one or more body parts ended up cut or bruised and much cussing ensued. These days, with grandbaby car seats practically welded to the back seat, the space in the Jeep is very limited. If I want to ride on a trail, I either take out the seats (which y’all know is a big old PITA) or learn how to work a bike rack.
Larry, as bad as his eyesight is, is an excellent birder. He can always spot the smallest of birds. Yesterday on the trail, he saw a scarlet tanager and stopped suddenly. I nearly ran into him. The bird flew away so I didn’t see it. So disappointing. But a half mile later, Larry stopped again. “Look! An indigo bunting! See it? See it?” Yes, I saw it. And it was beautiful and brave (it didn’t move even though we were just a few feet from him) and he’s now on my Life List.
We turned around 5.6.miles in. Here I am, getting my confidence together. It wasn’t going to be a bad uphill ride, but it would be constant, and given I’d not biked like that in several months and I was not quite the cardio queen I was a year ago, I was a little worried. But hey, what goes down, must come up, and I’d been down long enough. I took off the long-sleeved thin shirt I wore over my t-shirt, tucked my Blackberry in my pants (to take photos on the way back), and started peddling.
Minutes in, the lung rush and the increased heartbeat started, but it was familiar, like an old friend. I knew what was being asked of my body. I’d been there before. And despite a lack-luster, half-assed winter of “exercise,” I felt incredible. I stopped a few times to take photos, but I peddled and peddled and peddled and when I got back to the Jeep, I was a sweaty stinky happy-beyond-belief mess.
Since getting to goal, I’ve eagerly anticipated the first bike ride of the season (Here are links to the blogs in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010). I’ve been on dozens of rides in four years, but this one was the most “spiritual.” It renewed my faith in my physical self (I know I can, I know I can), and it affirmed what I’ve been trying to accept for many months, that less is better and that there is balance between doing everything and doing nothing.
What do you know you can do now that you didn’t know you could do before?