“I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind… At these times… I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure.”
Albus Dumbledore via J.K. Rowling, HPATGOF
So many distractions and so many reasons to stay inside during this 21st Century: the persuasive lover, the internet, five hundred television channels, a dozen electronic doohickeys, and so on. And always, there are the words. No matter the deep blue sky or soft wind, there are few things more satisfying that wrapping oneself around a good book like a cat curling up in a beam of sunlight on a soft carpet. The downside of an inside life can be found in the pair of blue jeans that “shrunk” in the wash or sucking in the air a little to make the last notch on a favorite belt, or, worst of all, feeling the flesh jiggle and wiggle a little in places like it never did before.
On top of this is time flying by like the high-speed Shinkansen passing Mt. Fuji. It’s easy to lose the daylight when you’re thinking heavy thoughts about family, health, aging, day jobs, the death of idols, bills, unwritten novels, and the finished but unpublished books. There’s rarely enough hours in the day for everything that needs to get done.
But I got on the damn bike, anyway.
That old Trek is named Dollar after John Wayne’s favorite horse, but it also signifies the amount of folding money I’ve dropped on it over the decades, and we’ve had many an adventure together. It ain’t pretty by any stretch: the blue and black paint is chipped in places from a dozen or so crashes, the tires don’t have much tread, and the mirrors on both sides are twisted and scarred. It sits alongside a much prettier Kona Dew named Kash that looks like it’s going a hundred miles an hour even when sitting in the corner. I got Kash for whenever I feel the need for speed, and we’ve traveled hundreds of miles, but when I want a workout, I get on Dollar.
When you ride a bike, you’re never alone, for good and bad. There’s the dozens of weekend warriors trying to capture a week’s worth of physical fitness in a couple of hours. The speedsters in their tight jerseys whiz on by like they’re on fire as their smirks lend energy to their pencil-thin legs. And always the kids, so damn cute in their “Hello Kitty” and “Transformer” bike helmets.
It’s not all unicorns and rainbows. Bicycling is a sport played on a field with the two-ton behemoths guided by idiots who are texting, cell-phoning, and other such nonsense that sometimes distracts them from seeing the human-sized manatees sharing the road ahead. A two-second mistake by either the cyclist or the driver can make a ride go south in a blink of an eye. The worst of this translates into hundreds of road kills and thousands of injuries annually across the nation. Every rider has a story when someone in an oversized SUV drove too-damn-close to him or her, myself included.
I accept this and do the ride, anyway. In fact, there was a day when you couldn’t keep me off my machines but somehow they dropped off the radar and, to be honest (and this is the place for that, always), cycling has been an afterthought for a long time. There’s no excuse for it: Dollar and Kash are standing five feet from the front door, silent reminders of many roads untraveled. I’ve paid for their neglect, now packing 260+ pounds on this misshapen frame with the appropriate amount of high blood pressure to boot.
So I got on Dollar today.
And it was easier than I possibly could have imagined. Cycling starts with the legs and I zealously walk 10,000 steps every day when things aren’t hitting the fan at work. The reward for this effort was a ninety minute ride around town that felt like I hadn’t skipped a day. The best part was all of that crap you read above disappeared from my head, siphoned off as if dropped into a Pensieve, as I focused on the road ahead.
That best value of a long ride ain’t the miles but the cleansing of the mind as those everyday problems and noise they cause between your ears sort of fades away in the clean air and bright sunshine. I always let myself forget that to my physical detriment but there’s also the emotional joy of rediscovering, too.
I got the day off tomorrow and it’ll be in the sixties again. If you’re driving tomorrow, keep an eye out for me and my brothers/sisters on our two-wheelers. We’ll be enjoying the fresh air and thinking about nothing but the road ahead. Much appreciated.
(And now a word from our sponsor: The Author’s Page. Thank you.)
(For the Carsonites, today’s loop started at the Sheriff’s Office, then westward to the Governor’s Mansion, northward to Long Street, eastward along Highway 50 to Airport Road, south to the old prison, and westward over the Fifth Street Bridge.)