Monday, July 21, 2014

Field notes from a bicycle

Each time I am out on my bike, (let's call that 2-3x week for five years - so maybe 6-700 times since I started), and without exception, I marvel at the sense of being "in" the world and observing it in a way that is unique on a bike. I suspect most cyclists know exactly what I am talking about.

Yesterday was no different. I felt a profound sense of happiness to be riding. On my early morning, two-hour, zero traffic light ride, I saw a snake, rabbit, deer, dogs, groundhog, orioles, cardinals, crows, goats, squirrels, horses, ponies, and cows. I was surprised by the lack of chickens, so when I finally saw a few hens scratching around a front yard I yelled out to no-one, CHICKENS!! It was as if I'd won my personal game of animal bingo. I even stopped to rescue a box turtle from the street.

I saw no chipmunks, which is fine, because I had two of them in my house over the weekend, courtesy of our cat (they both made it out unharmed).

I waved to early morning porch-dwellers, the Sunday newspaper-getters and the small group of cyclists I saw headed the opposite direction.

Until I started cycling, I was never quite so aware of the subtle changes that signal the transition between seasons. Right now, blackberries are at or just past their peak, corn is high, and I saw my first few wooly bear caterpillars - sure signs that summer is moving swiftly along (noooo!!!).

The fragrances change from season to season and year to year. This year, honeysuckle seemed to really flourish and I enjoyed an abundance of that sweet smell along my favorite routes. You don't get that treat driving by in a car.

The wildflowers seem extra vivid and plentiful too - purples, oranges, yellows, whites, pinks, blues, and reds. I much prefer the surprise of their random road-side occurrences over anything planned and cultivated. I wish for photo of every flower I see, to take home and say "look what I saw!", but my need to pedal strong and without interruption takes precedence.

Mornings have been unseasonably cool in the last week. I rode through mist and felt the pockets of distinctly cooler and warmer air that one notices best from the seat of a bicycle. It's not one single temperature out there as weather reports would have us believe.

How awesome if we could really convey the sensations, the sights, and the smells of a bike ride to others as an enticement to ride! Yes the effort, the speed, and the feeling of covering many miles under our own power is pretty fun, but the chance to quietly observe the world around us is perhaps even better. We travel slowly enough to observe so much, but quickly enough to escape real notice. It's my kind of "reality show!"

It's not unusual for me to spend a day, or even two, contemplating possible ride routes and thinking of which one will best suit the training objective...and more importantly my spirit. As good as cycling might be for the body, it is even better for the soul.

Enjoy the ride...always.