There is something about getting on a bike after a long absence from riding that leaves me feeling completely unbuckled when I start peddling. If you've been spending the majority of your time in a car buckled in surrounded by metal and airbags you have a nice false sense of security. When you get on a bike, even with a helmet, gloves, working brakes, sun glasses, and perfectly inflated tires there is still a feeling of nakedness, you're unbuckled, but more importantly you're free. You're free from the trappings of a false sense of security. You're completely exposed.
My goal today was to see if I'd be ok riding 23 miles next weekend durning the Rites of Spring. It has been longer than I'd like to admit since I'd last ridden my beautiful bike. After teaching a long hard power flow class this morning, I proceeded home encouraged my the sunshine and changed into my favorite light blue embrocation kit. I'd be lying if I told you I was not proud of the fact that my kit matches all the way down to the socks, my sunglass perfectly accent my pink handle bar tape, and my gloves have pink accents that match too. Yes, my outfit matches my bike. I smile to myself, it feels perfect. I check my free wheel, it's attached safely, I check my brakes, they work nicely, I pump up my tires, and wipe off the dust (yes, the bike had lots of dust on it). I'm ready to roll.
I get out onto my street, and I uncomfortably clip in. My clips still after all these years make me slightly nervous and I'm reminded how exposed on the bike I am. I roll out to the main street and feel the air still slightly cool as it rushes past my skin. I feel the warmth of the sun shining down, I wonder how this is going to go. I think of turning back (I'm not sure why, there is nothing else to do today). I get 5 miles out, and realize that I packed my phone, camera, emergency cash and road ID, but failed to bring a water bottle. Serious Fail. Oh well, I suppose I'll see how far I can get without a water bottle.
Ridding out of downtown through the "nicer" wealthier neighborhoods in town and notice that my legs feel pretty strong for not having ridden in a long time. That's a pleasant surprise. The sunshine feels incredible, I hope we've crested into spring. Cars fly past and I have that feeling of being unbuckled again, of being naked, too exposed. Maybe I should turn around.... I remember these feelings are normal on the bike (at least for me), especially if you haven't ridden in awhile, it takes a while to get used roads with cars, I remind myself I'll feel better when I get on the greenway.
What is it about being on a bike that makes you feel like your heart is going to crack wide open? Have you ever felt that way? It happens to me a lot when I ride alone. As I peddle up a big hill reminding myself of all of the things that I'm not doing right. My cadence is too low, I'm not connecting to my breath, my form sucks. It's not just on the bike though, it's life in general, lots of screw ups, lots of miss-steps, when will I get it right? Before my eyes well up with tears I remind myself, it's a beautiful day, and the sun is shining and there is no crying on the bike. Well, maybe sometimes there is crying on the bike, but certainly no need today.
I hit battleground park I'm 11 miles in and decide without a water bottle I should turn around. My legs are starting to feel tired and maybe my mind has hit it's turn around point even if my body really could go longer.
It's nice to get home and have 20 miles under my belt for the day, I'm sure that The Rites of Spring will go well and now I'm confident that I can hang with a group just fine. Time for lunch. Veggie Burger and a beer for sure! Maybe I'll even ride to work tomorrow...