"Nothing is ever really lost as long as
we remember it."
This February has been a cyclists dream. The warmth is almost frightening with the talk of global warming. The sun is shining and I can feel the promise of what, in a few short months, will be true warmth. Winter sun is just so very different from summer sun, distant, pale, a shadow of itself. But I will take it. The sun promises and eventually that promise with come to fruition.
Last month, January, I did not ride a century for the first month since November 2003. I "could" have finished one. I was close mileage wise and had plenty of time, but the desire was not there, the desire to fight the cold, the wind, the discomfort, so I gave in. But if the weather had been like this, I could ride forever. I am thankful that the love of the bike has not been taken from me too yet.
The trees have not yet started to bud, blurring the winter starkness that defines them, but it will not be long with this weather. Spring can be delayed, but it can never be halted. Life moves stolidly forward. Birds are not yet chattering, but soon mating will cause them to establish their territory, driving the weak away. Frogs and insects will begin to call. And I will fall back in love with my bicycle.
Soon it will be time for the Maple Syrup Festival Century. I no longer captain it, but I still like to ride it. I remember designing the course, how the signs lured me and the sound of the fiddle wafting on the breeze captured me. I remember riding there the first year after with Steve Royse and Grasshopper to share it with them. The line was too long to wait for pancakes, so we decided to ride to Scottsburg to eat. As I descend Grasshopper Hill, I think of how we were racing, playing on our bicycles like teenagers, when the cinders they use for snow here caught his wheel. I remember watching as he flew over the guardrail, turning over and over until he hit the ground. And I remember the blood. Strangely, his bike remained upright, propped against the guardrail as if he had stopped to take a leak.
I zoom down the hill now, today, on a sunny February day, but not as I did then, reckless as we played. I miss those days. So many things have changed. Grasshopper no longer rides. Though he rode for awhile after, his neck always bothered him when he rode afterward. My mother is gone. My husband is gone. I rarely see Steve Royse and never ride with him. Only my bicycle has remained steadfast, a source of comfort and strength.
I think how our memories define us, guide us along our paths. I think of how memories can be sweet and sour at the same time. The playing was sweet. The wreck not worth the price and quite sour. Plus, we never got pancakes that day. But that day, as others, will never be lost so long as I can remember it. And while I wish the accident had not happened, I never regret the time spent with friends even if they are ghosts to me now. And, God willing, I will again ride the Maple Syrup Festival ride in a few weeks. New friends, new memories. Perhaps that is what life is about.