(A positive rant/ramble)….
The after work ride, trying to not think about having a cigarette… and succeeding!
Wednesday marked one week since I’ve quit smoking. I know, last place you’d think you’d see anything about smoking would be on a bike blog… But, I would bet that you might be surprised to learn how many closet smokers exist amongst the riding populace. But, this entry is not really about smoking anyhow. Not exactly…
I have (I think) finally beat the physical addiction part, withdrawal symptoms are gone. But now I have to battle the psycho addiction: the craving. I’ve received a lot of great suggestions, from breath mints to sunflower seeds. I may even try a couple, as substituting Pringles is probably not much healthier than smoking. Even though, rather than caving to the craving, I’d rather just figure it out and beat it. This way I can avoid buying box loads of Mentos from the Big Ass Aisle at Sam’s Club.
The last few days, instead of using a food source to sub for the craving, I’ve been hopping on the bike and just zipping around the block, and then coming back in to work. Takes about the same amount of time as a smoke, and I can keep up on my wheelies.
Tuesday evening, I didn’t get to leave work until about 7 pm, and was a complete ball of stress when I walked out the door. It took a lot of… something – to keep from zipping right to the gas station and picking up a new pack. Somehow, I found the strength to ride straight home, put on some shorts, grab the camera, helmet, and get to the trail head. I really, really needed this ride.
After getting about 2/3 the way through the loop, you climb few winding switch backs – at the peak the trail flattens out in to a little mini-mesa, with a view of the meadow trails and surrounding hills. At this particular time, the sun was getting low, and the shadows long. Everything in sight was embellished with a little torch of yellow fire from the setting sun. Beauty.
Up to this point, I hadn’t really been thinking about anything. I realized the stress from the days clients was gone. But, really, the only thing I was concentrating on, if I was even concentrating at all – was just pedal stroke after pedal stroke, dodge this rock, turn a little tighter.. lean back, lean forward…. There was no deep contemplation of life, the universe or anything. No great epiphany. Despite the seemingly “shallow” philosophical nature of my ride, I felt surprisingly refreshed. And the thought of a cigarette had not entered my mind once. I really needed this ride, I thought.
But then, I really need every ride.
About halfway through Stacey’s Loop…
I’m lucky enough to live only minutes from some the worlds best singletrack – but when you get down to it – it doesn’t matter, . I could be out dirt jumping, riding the fixie through traffic on 3rd Ave. in Columbus, or doing a long distance loner mission in ABQ, just exploring unknown roads. I need all of these rides. Even the bloody tortuous ones where the wind is always in your face, and you’re always pedaling up hill in a gear three teeth too hard. I need to grunt, sweat blood, and feel the bonk. I also need to feel the 40mph breeze against my face, explore the limits of traction through bobsled-like turns, and feel gravity pull me back to earth after a ghastly launch. I need to leave everything behind; schedules, designs, deadlines, orders, responsibility…. I need these rides.
Approaching the Telegraph trail head. Rain in the distance.
It would be nice of course, if every day life were so simple, that dodging rocks and adjusting your body English were the peak of critical thinking and concerns. But a good ride is the perfect escape, time to reflect, re-process, or just totally tune out of modern life – if only for a moment or moments. Being able to break life down in to simple motion, actions, reactions, immediate feedback from your surroundings – that being charge of the “present” and your immediate future that a bike ride brings a long – pure magic. Or Heaven. Or Nirvana. Call it what you like, but I need these rides.
That’s a Carbon Trek, I believe. Single Speed, external bottom bracket bearings…
Belongs to a cat named Chris I think, (forgive Chris, if I got it wrong…). At the trailhead,
He was waiting along with a half-dozen other riders, all dressed up in… well, anything but
riding gear, waiting to have their single speed “race”. Not technically a race, more like.. a
Chinese Uphill, or Animal House meets single speeds and a trail type thing. Nerd glasses and
cowboy hats were very popular items it seemed. I was invited to participate, but there’s no
way I could even be jokingly competitive with these cats – they’re all x-country racers, and
their “soft pedal” would be my flat out at the moment…. Btw – if you look at the mountains in
the background, just above the bike, you’ll notice a little notch and maybe even a little trail leading
up to it. That’s about the halfway point…
Of course, not every single ride is one way trip to Nirvana… I do have the occasional epiphany, grand idea, or come up with a solution to some abstract problem that is bugging in me in the non-riding world. But, I doubt I would have these realizations without the benefit of two wheels and a place to roll about on them.
Rain is coming…
So this really just serves as a reminder – you owe it to yourself to just go out and get lost in a ride – beyond your daily commute or weekend warrior route. Do five laps around the block, cruise the bike path, just get out pedal with no preconceptions about what you are going to accomplish or why you’re doing it… just get out and enjoy the ride.
And, by the way – I’m not one to preach, especially about vices – but if you are smoking rider –
that is, a rider that also enjoys inhaling heated tobacco – you owe it to yourself to stop. You
will not believe what a difference it will make on your rides…. Peace.
~Enjoy the Ride~
Jerry – SSD Rogue Reporter