Prepping For Next Year

Last Ride
It’s almost time to put the bike away and think about winter things. I am not one of those who care to ride in the winter. A good part of what I love about cycling is the joy of it. That means only pushing myself when I feel like it. Riding in the winter gives me no joy.

That doesn’t mean, though, that sitting on my rear end all winter seems like a good idea either. Or rather, it seems like a good idea, just not one that I am going to give in to. I will be riding this winter. I just won’t be doing it outdoors.

So then the question becomes, just how do I plan on keeping my riding muscles in shape over the winter? Certainly not by joining some high buck fitness club and getting into one of their spinning classes.The idea of being pushed by some wannabe drill Sargent while in the company of a host of strangers has no real appeal for me.

I had thought about getting an exercise bike with all of the bells and whistles, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a less than ideal situation. The good ones are very expensive, they don’t quite mimic the actual riding experience I would get with my bike.

The more I checked into it, the more it seemed that a better option would be to find a way to actually ride my bike, only inside. So I decided to look into some of the bike stand training gizmos that seem to be so popular these days.

The trick becomes choosing the right kind of trainer, and I’m still a bit on the fence about that. There are so many different options to choose from. I am sure that I will get one of the better ones, hopefully a programmable version  so I can vary my routine.

I wonder if there is one that will sync with whatever iphone app I choose for the illusion of riding an actual trail or road. (And isn’t that the neatest thing since iced tea?)

I still have more checking to do, but one thing is sure. I will be on the road first thing the weather brightens next spring. And in better shape than I am now.

The Open Road

open road

Serenity is the open road. I am pretty sure that saying was not originated as a paean to the joy of bicycling, but it is  apropos. There are few things more peaceful than finding the right gear and letting the beauty of your surroundings and the rhythm of the wheels and your pedal strokes ease you into a state of mindful mindlessness.

In much the way a ride on a wooded path can wake you to the beauty of your surroundings, a ride on the open road can give you a sense of joy. Unlike the small detailed view that you might get riding through the hemmed in tree lined paths through a forest, a ride on the open road can give you  sense of the boundless beauty of wide expanses. A sudden hill on a wooded path will have you focusing intently on where you are going and what might be in your way planning on giving you grief.

Coming upon  a downhill on a well surfaced highway is the exact opposite. One quick glance to verify the quality of the road up ahead, and you can lift your head to appreciate the expanse that spreads out before you. An experience like that can make the toil of struggling up inclines on a road all worth it.

A good road trip can leave you open to the world. You start with a map of the day and a general idea of how long it’s going to take to get from your morning departure point to the end of the day rest, and beyond that everything is new. But it’s not really new, because riding on the road is riding on the road, it’s only the surroundings that are varied. And that is the point. The physical effort can be anything you want it to be, and once you enter the place where the effort recedes to the background, it becomes an old familiar friend that just accents the day and the newness.

The road. The woods. They are the same. They bring you out of yourself and into something greater.

Unless of course you are the other kind. Push it to the limits and find the limits of yourself from deep withing yourself.

And that has a beauty all its own.

The joy of the woods

There is a saying – “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” Though the saying itself has to do with a myopic vision that misses the big picture, I would say that there is another way to look at it. Or at least a positive spin to be put on the same context.

The fact is that much of the stress of every day life can be attributed to the big picture. To the forest as it were. When you jump on a bike and disappear into the forest your vision narrows. The big worries of the day disappear into the limited sitelines and the need to get from point a to point be while keeping your wits about you.

Of course this is speaking from the point of view of someone who is treating riding the trails as a high powered way to deal with stress. Pushing the physical limits that have held one back so far. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t value in doing the same thing from a place of peace. Of casually riding through the woods and taking the time to appreciate the beauty of nature for the wonder that it is.

It is hard to truly appreciate nature when you are trying hard not to let nature jump up and bit you in the ass. But that is not a way of looking at things that is right for everyone, though it might do everyone good to spend a little time with that attitude just to learn to appreciate how much that take no prisoners attitude can mean when it comes to taking on and overcoming the challenges that come with living in the modern day world.

Well that’s me getting carried away again. I will try to keep  that sort of preachiness to a minimum from here on out. No guarantees though.