i didn't want to ride today.
i wanted to ride all the other days. i wanted to ride when there was sunshine and when there wasn't, when the kids were asleep and when they weren't, when i had the legs, or watched that youtube video of that mountain stage, or when the coughing from the bunk bed drove me just that much more crazy, or when there was everything else to do, and all of it mattered more. as we all know, not wanting to do something, REALLY not wanting to do something, is often a sign that it should be done, and probably immediately.
so i choked down two cups of coffee. i got off the unmade bed, fully dressed, and dragged on my riding clothes. i put on chamois butter. i put on wool. i put on a hat and gloves and helmet and shoes and booties and a spare tubular and some water and a computer and a heart rate strap. i pumped up my tires. i walked down the steps. i did all of these things begrudgingly. i didn't want to ride because i wanted to pout. i'm really good at pouting. i'm really good at ignoring all of the great things that are there, and blowing all the not as great things completely out of proportion. i'm good at being a suck. and i know exactly where my daughter gets it from. (she couldn't make it through dinner without crying every third bite.) and so, even the thing i love to do, this two-wheeled pushing pedals thing, i did, begrudgingly, because i wanted to be an idiot and pout instead.
as soon as i clipped into the first pedal though, all that was gone.
it has always been this way. it hasn't always been this instantaneous - sometimes it takes longer than clicking into the first pedal to really get the head where it should be - but it has always worked just like this. riding has saved my mind, and my stupid, stupid heart, for as long as i can remember.
i'm beginning to hate my thirties. i long for all of those things i remember so fondly and have left so permanently behind. my hair. my self-assigned sex appeal. my inspiration. my creativity. my singular ability to feel, so intensely, so much more than anyone else, and give into it entirely, wallowing for time on end, in feeling. what a bunch of crap. well, not the hair part, but probably everything else. my thirties seem to have left everything else behind, replaced it all with mundaneness and broken dreams, and what the fuck is left to really get on about? a bunch of debt from my twenties? another load of laundry? more questions for which i have no answers? dark days and valleys ahead. or maybe just hills to climb. and i've always loved hills.
so i wallowed for a bit, then got on my bike, and fixed everything. as long as i was out there, doing a good job of staying in a base-miles-only heart rate zone, it was all going to work out. i breathed. i breathed. i spun little perfect circles, over and over and over. i blew a lot of stuff out of my nose. i sipped water. i stayed in the drops. i handled my bike. and we left everything behind. there is nowhere to wallow atop a steel frame made for me, to the hum of tubular tires on hand built wheels, breezing along in air crisp and clear and colder in the shade of leafless trees. obstacles must be dealt with immediately, usually preemptively, and hills must be climbed, because there's no other way out. to wallow would be to freeze. to stay would be to die. so we go.
when i was a kid in high school, i always wanted things to mean something. i loved ceremony, and would invent it for things most sensible people would have just gone through and forgotten. my first kiss was a big deal. my grades were important to me. i tried to save some experiences for times i could share them, the first ones, with certain people. usually i got it all wrong and fucked it all up and ended up doing things on the fly, but even then, i'd grab my huge bag of feelings, and plunk it down on the table, and expect to deal them in, dole them out, subject everyone else to my self. terrible. but i did it anyway. i guess that's what we do when we're high school kids - figure things out, usually the hard way. needless to say, i'd end up breaking my own heart on anything i could, big or small, ceremony and meaning or not, i'd break it a little or a lot, and go from there. somewhat by accident, i figured out that i could ride all this turmoil away.
i lived in a hilly rural area. the people i loved lived far apart. i often couldn't drive. so i rode. after one romantic endeavour or another, i had to ride home, wrestling with meaning and emotions and justifications for kissing a girl i wasn't dating. i wanted meaning. i wanted things to be profound. i also just wanted to kiss beautiful girls. conundrums and difficulties ensued. anyway, i had to ride home. with all this thought and feeling going on in my head, i tackled hill after hill, mile after mile of broken pavement, and i spun circles as perfectly as i could. and somewhere, somewhere on rockingham road, i processed all of that ridiculous emotion. maybe i justified things. maybe it all became that much clearer when there were bigger things (and hills) to worry about. maybe i just forgot to feel so much. but it worked. riding saved me from my stupid self. and i've been doing it ever since.
i don't get to ride to pretty girls' parties anymore, make out with people i shouldn't, then head home and come to conclusions with my hands on the bars and my head in a helmet. i stay home. i do dishes and homework and laundry. the diaper days have ended but the coughing has not. we need more soy milk.
riding will still save me. one click. two click. on down the street. up to the other street. breathing in and out. pacing. spinning. looking. breathing. in. out. gone.