Thursday, April 07, 2016

Nine Hundred 71 Days

I keep saying that I'm going to stop, that I can stop any time that I want, maybe tomorrow, but not today. Compulsion, addiction.

Late last year I said at the end of the year. Early this year I said after 1500 days of pedaling a bicycle straight (which included riding on the indoor trainer at times for the first year and a half). lately I've been saying the goal is 1000 days in a row of riding a bicycle outdoors in New England, which it would seem is 29 days from today. During the winters, most of that time has been in Northern New England be it Western Maine or the Northeast kingdom of VT.

Riding outside every day, in every type of weather condition imaginable has taught me one simple lesson, the hardest part is always just getting out the door. Once you are on the bike and riding, it's all the same, all so very simple; just you and the bike. And of course whatever conditions you are dealing with be that snow, ice, rain or all of the above.

Some times you have to work at it a bit, in order to be safe, and choose your ride time and location wisely. For me though, I usually ride at the same time every day, logical after work around 5:30PM. In the winter that means it's cold and dark but that consistency gives me some semblance of familiarity, and peace.

The ride has become a daily ritual, almost a spiritual event at times, sure to happen as sure as waking on the day or going to sleep at the end. I won't lie, there are many days when the ride feels like drudgery, like a chore that simply has to be taken care of for the day, like cleaning out the kitten's litter box. I'm an excellent litter scooper and attack it like a science. It is, after all, my job. Everyone has to have a job and as I find myself lacking in gainful employ, I've adopted that as one of my few regular vocations, along with grocery shopping. It's just what I do.

And so I ride. In the back of my mind, as much because I can as I want to. My health is good so why waste perfectly good days without a physical celebration of that fact, a fact that we can not, must not, take for granted. One day that will change, whether we are present to recognize it or not.

So, as the brief sunshine is blotted by the clouds and impending rain, I look out knowing that I should get out and ride now all the while knowing that I'll probably just wait until the evening, and the pouring rain. Maybe I've become oblivious to the conditions, numbed to them, a slave to the inevitable ride that will happen, regardless. Maybe the conditions reinforce the memory of the ride which could all too easily slip away in the annals of the log, not even a memory.

Some times the most memorable rides, the ones you look most fondly and vividly back upon are the most  grim and grizzly. The late December 2015 NEK 50 mile 34 degree pouring rain ride is one of those that I will recall forever. The February 2015 nine hour 60 mile fat bike loop through remote wilderness which degraded into a slog through loose powder is another. The same fat bike loop the year before in reverse which two of us pushed each other hard to complete in only seven  hours is another. The 80 mile ride from Twin Mountain over Crawford up Bear Notch (in the snow and ice), over the Kanc and up through the bike path in Franconia Notch (also in snow and ice) and all on road bikes, with road shoes, is another. Too many to list but so many fond memories to cherish. Memories of actions through which we are self defined, or at least, I am.

In fact, a quick mental list of my all time most memorable rides includes epic rides that all had epic tales of suffering and misery. What does that tell us? I suspect we as humans are wired that way, to remember the bad as life lessons. Now what does that tell you, when those like me look fondly back at those events and worse, seek to emulate them moving forward. Gluttons? Masochists?

I choose to think of people like this as life adventurers. The road less chosen is where it's at. Life is about loops and not out and backs. Never take the same old path you've chosen before if you are presented with a new one to explore. You never know what may be down that path and you may be missing something, incredible, revealed by simply making the choice.

Ride on. Live life. #RideOutside365

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