You know how, sometimes on a bike ride, your mind wanders? Some rides, you’re totally tuned into the world around you – the smells, the sights, the sounds. Wow! Listen to those spring peepers! Who knew such tiny animals could make so much sound? I hear a sandhill crane, but where is it? Wow! Way over there! It’s like the sound totally fills the sky! Look at the delicate green of those maple flowers! Hey, look! Those trees are leafing out and it’s a totally different green! Roadside asparagus! Is that an eagle? Why is that redwing blackbird dive-bombing me? Nest nearby? I smell honeysuckle! Where is it? I love the smell of new-mown grass! Is someone burning off a field? I remember the smell of burning leaves in the fall when I was a child. We don’t do that anymore – now they become mulch or compost.
Some rides, you’re totally tuned into your body and how it feels to ride. I’m one with my bike! We are perfectly matched. My legs could spin like this all day. 100 miles? Let’s go for 200! Something’s not right with my left knee…have I noticed that before? Will it go away? Oh yeah. My knee hurt before. I forgot. Feels fine now. Can I force any more air into my lungs? Are they going to burst before I reach the top of this climb? Can my heart beat any faster?
But on days like today, you just drift. Enough of your brain is tuned into riding that you stay safe, but some of it is elsewhere. I wrote of this before, how all my best ideas came when I was 13 years old, riding my bike in the pre-dawn darkness, tossing papers. Today I noticed all of my thoughts drifting to Cycle America. Don’t tell my boss or my wife any of what follows. I was thinking about the 2018 coast to coast ride. Not just the good parts, but about how the soles of my feet burned on endless days out west. I wanted to scream. (Okay, I did scream – just not when anyone was around.) At water stops I took off my shoes, doused my feet, walked around barefoot, and dreaded getting back on the bike. But I did. And I survived the day. And the ride is over. Was the agony that bad? What happens to agony once you’ve lived through it?
I thought about how I considered a coast to coast ride a once in a lifetime adventure. And that I want to do it again. Greg said he promised a 2020 ride but then might retire. I was going to meet them with a case of beer when they passed near here. The 2020 ride was canceled due to COVID-19 and Greg now promises a 2022 ride – and sent me the schedule. I was going to retire in the summer of 2023, after I turned 70. But other things (which are in a draft of a future post) have me wondering if I’ll make it that long. And this is only a year earlier. I spent 35 miles thinking about the ride – remembering and planning. (What did I bring last time that I wouldn’t bring again? What didn’t I bring that I should have; or what do I have now that I didn’t have then? Will any of the 2018 riders be back? Maybe a who’s who of prior years. Will I blog again, or just go out for a beer with the others after the day’s ride instead of sitting and writing. If I take pictures, will they be totally different? Will I need to buy some iCloud space?… ) At the end of the ride, the miles had flown by, and now I was left to think about what I had just spent the evening thinking about…
And this is the first post in a long time that is going up right away, with no time to edit or think about whether I really want to post it.