On the night of January 13th, after falling on the ice that day, I did entertain the thought that cycling may be done for me. I had several fractured ribs, and at least one hairline fracture in the groin area. I couldn't walk, I couldn't breath, and I hurt. Whether pathetic or not, I did wonder what I would do without cycling. During that period of healing, I realized that meditation could take it's place, but not fully, at least not right away. Now, I have been a meditator for some number of years, but there is something about moving meditation, cycling for me, that sooths the beast in me. And you would be right if you said that meditation could also sooth the beast. Perhaps, I am lazy or weak, or maybe the beast is just particularly strong, or stubborn.
I am generally an easy-going person, often very calm, can sit in meditation, and contemplate all that is. And....there are days when I am restless, easily triggered and riled. It has always been that way. I wish I understood it. Maybe it's a flaw for it seems that the older I get, the less I know for sure, and watch as others seem to know so much more. And it is on those restless days, days when I could so easily find conflict with those others; that a bike ride is the best form of therapy.
It could also be said that at age seventy, it could be time to give up a sport that was as dangerous as cycling can be. Yet, for whatever reason, I did not. First, I quietly set up a bike on a trainer in the garage. I say quietly, because, having some inkling of the mental instability that such a move exhibited, did not want Sue to worry any further. Likely she knew I would be right back on that bike. In the least it was a concession to riding outside. The first few sessions were difficult. It hurt, and I had to use a stool to get my leg over the top tube. And it did take six weeks. The Tour commentators are raving about a French kid who has the climber's jersey. He had a similar fracture to the pelvis in April, and yet here he is. Given time, a certain healthiness and we heal. In May, we went on the Paleo diet, and I dropped some weight, which resulted in an increase in power on the bike. Once the bones were healed, and the pain went away, I was riding better than in years. I found myself, once again, on the start line for the Oregon Gran Fondo, and rode a personal best time. I say this with humility as I was the next to last to finish the 116 mile route, and sure some did not finish. Still, this was a comeback that might not have been.
So once again, I find myself wondering what I am getting at. We take so much for granted. I know, you've heard others say this. So have I, and yet, I still do. We take the relationhips in our life for granted, the person, or persons that so often has our back. We take our health for granted, the special moments that we have in life. We take planet earth for granted. We take our safety and security for granted. So many things. And yet...And yet, we are so sure that we are right. About EVERYTHING. We are usually not right. At best, if our perception is particularly keen on a given day, we might hazard a pretty good guess. But, again, I digress.
One of the most important lessons in my life was that you can't accomplish something if you think you can't do it. This is critical. And it's not that all you have to do is think you can do it. You have to know you can do it. Now, of course, there has to be some semblance of reality here, still this is the basis of spiritual belief. "You will do greater things than I," to paraphrase Christ.
So here I am, rolling along on a short bike ride, near Autzen stadium, when I am reminded that there is a Strava segment on Leo Harris Parkway behind Autzen. For those who don't know, a Strava segment is a ride, usually short, that cyclists do to compare themselves to others, using data sent to a website by GPS bike computers. Actually it wasn't a Strava segment, it was a Ride With GPS segment, though pretty much same difference. I'm thinking I don't care about these things, and usually don't compare favorably anyway, just too old. But I know on this segment there will be a raging tailwind, so what the hell. I do a U-turn, and go as hard as I can, hitting speeds of near 25 miles per hour, so hard that when the wind buffets me from the side as the road curves slightly to the left, and a little into the wind, that my bike shakes a little, and I am reminded of both how marvelous the technology of these modern machines, and the instability. I make to the end of the segment, and think that it was something of significance-I did it, even if I did not "take a segment." I have to wait till I get home to find out as my phone is not reliable for conveying such accessible information to me. When I get home, I find out on the RWGPS site that I did the .7 mile segment in 1:57 or right at 23 mph average, and slot into the number two spot, nine seconds behind the leader. Not bad for an old guy. Nine seconds! I think: "I could go back and do it again. There's nine seconds there." But I don't. And maybe this is the point. I am satisfied. Being number one would, in reality, in the grand scheme of things, be no different. Be satisfied. All debts are prepaid.