It’s so therapeutic, the morning ride in the woods. The earlier – it’s cooler and more quiet, albeit more spider webs to wrap around your face – the better. Almost a giddy feeling as I pedal through the mouth of the trail and disappear into the woods. Those first few ‘S’ turns as I follow the narrow path, weaving around the trees and bumping over the above-ground roots they extend across the path. The pure joy of physical exertion and the happy and fortunate feeling I have to still be able to engage in it. Approaching my 61st birthday and still ….
I’m not the only rider by far, but because of the length of the course and the many alternate routes, I only once encounter other riders during my pass. Just me and a few of my closest musical friends: Third World; Dave Matthews Band; Chris Standring; James Brown; Down to the Bone; Bebel Gilberto; Enya; Paolo Conte; Weather Report. And a host of others. Cracking their sounds through my buds, driving me and soothing me and making me almost forget about the eventual encroachment of tiredness in my legs, the (only slightly) labored breathing, the dull ache building in my lower back, the copious perspiration that threatens to impede my vision – this despite my headband and wristbands on both arms. Push and pull, push and pull, push and pull. Brake and accelerate, brake and accelerate. Weave and lean, weave and lean. Left, right, left, right. Down and up through the dips. Turn hard right. Down and up through the dips. Turn hard left. Duck down, bob left, bob right, so as to avoid the tree boughs and the wild and unkempt growth that reach across the narrow bike path. A symphony of maneuvers. Rhythmic yet sporadic.
I can’t imagine not being able to do this. Don’t want to. But sometimes I try to. It’s not long in the coming, I think to myself. Maybe I have five more years of it. Dare I think 10? Or longer? Greedy aspirations, I know but why not? I love it so. I suspect the racquetball playing can be extended further out than the bike riding. This kind of bike riding, that is: careening through the forest hell bent, always with the threat of going down. That’s the fun of it. The possibility of crashing.
So for now, I must take it one ride at a time. Squeeze every bit of joy and therapy I possibly can out of each encounter with the woods. My feet locked into the pedals. Pushing and pulling. Pushing and pulling. Pushing and pulling. Me and my buds. Rocking on till…