"I cannot endure to waste anything as precious
as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend
almost all the daylight hours in the open air."
Bicycling can be so many different things. I think, perhaps, that is one reason I love it so. You can use it as a mode of transportation, even a primary mode if you so desire. You can use it to race like the wind, panting and heaving, feeling your heart feel about to burst from your chest and your lungs explode as you dash to the finish. You can use it to play or to escape or to make friends. I could go on and on about all the things you can use a bicycle to do. And so, there is a need for different bicycles. There are touring bikes and fitness bikes and road bikes and mountain bikes and so on and so on depending upon your intent.
Today Timothy is having one of his rides that requires a mountain or similar type bike, and while this is not my norm, the call of the autumn lures me out the door into the car toward Medora, the ride start. Like Mr. Hawthorne, I cannot bear to waste this day. If I have learned nothing this past year, I have learned how very precious our time here is and that it should not be wasted. I have been tempted to do some of his rides in the past, but always something seemed to get in the way. But not today.
Does my house need a good cleaning? Yes. But that can wait until it is rainy or cold and the sun is not shining and calling me to come out and play.
I am a bit leery of these rides for I rarely ride my mountain bike. Normally it is the bike I ride when the snow has fallen and I need to get out for a bit. It is not that I don't think I would like mountain biking, but road biking is more convenient and does not require that I develop new skills. I suppose I also equate mountain biking with my old boss, who while I really liked him, was always straggling in with a broken hip or other serious injury. Yes, I have broken a bone or two on a road bike, but not with the frequency that he seemed to do. Still, I do love the gravel I ride, even on my road bike, though I certainly can't tell you why.
I struggle a bit a day or so before the ride switching out pedals, mounting a new seat, getting a spare tire and tube, doing things that I don't worry about when I am just puttering around on my own. And I apparently am successful because my pedals don't fall off during the ride, my seat stays put though I will need to adjust it, and both I and my bike arrive back home in one piece. Thank you, Mr. You Tube. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Arriving at the ride, I pull my bike out, put the front wheel back on, and take a short spin trying to remember how to switch gears on this bike. Timothy assures me that it is okay if I turn out to be the slowest rider, that on his ride everyone stays together as a group. I think briefly of the first Tour de Mad Dog rides as they is how they were conducted.
Five of us eventually head out. I really do not know any of them, and even by the end of the ride I could not tell you the names of everyone, but what a nice ride it was and how enjoyable it was to spend the day with them as we all savored our love of the bike. The clouds cleared the sky and shortly after the first big hill jackets or underlayers came off. Some of the roads I was familiar with. Some of them are even on some of my centuries. One bridge I climbed about a month ago with Lynn and Amelia, but there is one unknown bridge and some unknown gravel roads and even a paved road or two that I have not found on my solitary rambles on my road bike. Briefly I wonder why it is so nice to ride unknown roads. I suppose it is the feeling of being unsure what you will see or what might happen next.
A young German Shepherd playfully follows us for mile after mile on one gravel road that borders the river enjoying the company and the beautiful weather. One of the riders is finally able to convince him to turn around. This makes me feel better as I was beginning to worry that he would not find his way. A huge pig glares at us. At first I think she is loose, but I then see the thin wire restraining her. Leaves are scattered on the ground, floating in the water we pass, and dancing lazily through the air and the world is filled with color. It is particularly beautiful knowing that there may be, at most, another week of it. Already a few trees stand stark and bare, silhouetted against the blue sky, a cold reminder of what is to come. The sun shines, but his heat is mellow and not the fiery, burning flame of late summer. Nobody is in a hurry. People climb hills at their own pace and patiently wait at each crossroad for the others to arrive.
Thank you, Timothy, for the wonderful ride and for your patience. I enjoyed the company, the day, and the route. How glad I am that I did not waste a beautiful autumn day doing anything as mundane as completing household chores. I even had time to finish out the beautiful day planting the last of my flowers in their new bed to sleep through the winter until next year squeezing every last bit of sunshine out of the day.