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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Hardinsburg in the Spring

"Just living is not enough...One must
have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower."
Hans Christian Anderson

 While I am disappointed that the day is going to start off so cold, I am so looking forward to the afternoon warmth and the predicted sunshine and an entire day on the bike.  It has been so gray and dreary, day after day it seems, for an extended period of time.  And always there is work and other responsibilities that rob me of my time, staring at me disapprovingly when I go to play.  Yes, there is a beauty in the stark monotones that precede the birth of spring, but mentally I just need  sunshine right now.  I want to bask in it, to feel it begin to hold the warmth that it will bestow in summer when I curse it. And I need to play.  I need to ride my bike.

I wonder who, if anyone, will show.  Matt e-mailed that Jason and he were coming, but I know how Jason dislikes the cold.  And even if they do show, there is no need in fooling myself that I will ever again ride their pace.  Age and laziness have robbed me of their speed if, indeed, I ever had it. 

Sometimes this bothers me, along with other changes wrought by aging, and I vow I will do what I know I could do to improve, not to where I was perhaps but to where I now could be. For me, however,  it is becoming less about the speed now than it is about the journey and the companionship.  Not that there are not still times I enjoy pressing myself, attacking a hill, challenging another, feeling the heave of my lungs, the ache in my thighs, and the blessed  release when a fast pace eases a bit or a hill comes to an end, but it is different somehow.  And that is one of the things that I so love about bicycling:  it is so many different things and there are so many different rides.  As long as I have sight, balance, and strength, I can participate in some form or another.

Last week-end Paul stayed with me.  It was so good to see him after the long winter, but I doubt he will come today if for no other reason that I think he probably passed away from having to listen to me rattle on for an entire century.  Living alone makes the first few group rides problematic for those who ride with me.  I ramble on with my mouth as much as the road rambles on: endlessly. Perhaps duct tape would be a solution;-)  Then again, perhaps I have always jabbered on and I just have some self-realization at this point.  At any rate, I have no doubt I played a role in Paul's passing, if indeed he has passed, by boring him to death.  But sometimes I just cannot help it.

Seven of us roll out into the cold morning with two more to come.  Jason and Matt are still planning on riding, but they intend to start late and will still pass us and finish first.  I bask in the sunshine and in the company. Lise tells me I should feel flattered that her husband wanted to do this ride again because he is very selective about his rides, and she says he said the lunch was so good.  It always is at the Mennonite run lunch stop.  Reasonable and delicious.  Later he himself thanks me and talks about the beauty of the course, of how after a big, steep descent (on this route) you drop into a valley for a long way before reaching the hill that means the approaching third store stop. It is nice to be thanked for putting together a route and sharing it.  Surprisingly, it doesn't happen as often as you might think, and complaints about gravel or road surfaces or dogs happen just as often. 

Sometimes  I wonder about that.  If I asked someone to dinner and they didn't like it, would they feel free to tell me that the meat was too tough or that the carrots were under-cooked?  Yet somehow many people feel free to criticize a route you have put together to your face. 

The day is really quite uneventful.  Most of us are together at the end of the ride, or not too very far apart.  The red buds grace our passage and there is the hint of spring flowers that we have not seen since last spring.  The sun is brilliant and even begins to have some warmth.  The company is good.  Just living, without these things, is not enough.  May there always be "sunshine, freedom, and a flower" in your life.  And may there always be a bicycle to help you enjoy them. 

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