Mother Nature was in sync with my threshold for crap weather and I got to turn the cranks on my road bike in the great outdoors for the first time this season. I was a little out of sorts for my early morning, “sneak-out-of-the-house” pre ride routine. I usually set out my kit in piles downstairs next to my bottles and food – I grab everything and hide out in the bathroom hoping I don’t wake the kids or alert the cat that a potential food source is in the vicinity. If either cat or kids wake up, the rest of the house is up for the day and I become public enemy number one. So, in the efforts of keeping everyone happy, I do my best to sneak out of the house unnoticed. In my mind I am a ninja, silently collecting my essentials, gearing up, and slipping out the back door. In reality you would see a festively plump, half asleep, lycra clad man bumble around the house like a dazed bull in a china shop. But this festively plump, lycra clad, sleepy bull managed to get out of the house without waking anyone up – I may be a ninja yet!
I pulled away from the house and everything just fell into familiar rhythm – spinning the cranks, hands on the hoods – all familiar yet I forgot how good it feels to be out on the road. There is nothing quite like the crunch of gravel under your tyres, the smell of crisp morning air, the clearing of the mind as you shift focus from the demands of life to simply propelling yourself forward. I think out of everything, clearing the mind is one of the things I love most. Life can be stressful – kids, family, and work commitments can occupy my mind for most of my waking hours yet when I am on the bike these stresses drift away. Riding wipes the mental slate clean and is a welcome reprieve to focus on thoughts of my own choosing or simply nothing at all.
The ride wasn’t long and it certainly wasn’t fast but it was outside and on familiar roads that I have been longing to reunite with after a long dreary winter. I passed familiar friends that I have ridden by countless times in seasons past. The horse that jogs alongside me from his fenced in field (today I think he walked). The dog that always runs down to the end of the driveway but never barks or runs onto the road. The “hay for sale” sign that marks the end of a slow grinding climb. Some days I make the horse run fast. Some days I pass the dog before he makes it to the bottom of the driveway. Some days I sprint past the sign.
Today was not that day, but I was happy to be out just the same. I left tired and foggy and came home fresh with a clear mind. My first ride had rekindled my spirit, given me focus, and lit a fire to reconnect with the outside world after being holed up all winter. 23km’s down, 3977 more to go…