Ride Toward the Light

I wheeled out from the driveway of the condo complex and instead of making the soft right at Five Corners I made the hard left and went South on SW 84th. I took 220th SW to SW 9th and headed to the start of my usual pre work loop.

Today I feel like training, though as I wrapped my freshly salivaed heart rate monitor what’s the point?” went through my head, and I need a little bit of a warm up before I start up Olympic View for the intervals my friend has prescribed for me.

Yesterday was a beautiful perfect spring day. Today it is warmsih, around the mid forties, but wet. It’s not quite rain, but the mist that truly defines Northwest Winters. In the direction I was headed I could see the break in the cloud line, where the sun was trying to work its way through the marine layer. Ride toward the light my head told me.

Aside from the trail that takes me to work I ride Olympic View more than any other road. It is the gateway to my pre work loop, which is also the ride I do on Sundays before spending the day with Signe. In fact I was riding here yesterday, attempting to keep the pace easy.  Olympic View trends up with a few flat spots. Its not steep but it is long and more importantly close. Which means I can do this workout without putting in an hours work just to get there.

I continually oscillate between wanting to train, or just go out for a ride.  For the past two seasons I have identified myself as a bike racer. The truth is I am not a bike racer. Bike racers watch what they eat and keep their weight down. They rest with their feet up, sleep eight plus hours a night and ride their bikes twenty hours a week. I am not a bike racer. I am a guy who races bikes. A guy who loves racing bikes, but not a bike racer.

The play list I selected for this morning’s ride is a short one and the music has stopped before I even start my intervals. I’m not riding my nice bike, but a heavy steel rig with fenders, skinny tires and eight speed downtube shifters. I’ve become used to this bike, and its changing the way I ride, for the better. Its harder to change the gears on this bike and the difference between gears is bigger than I’m used to, in most cases I feel either over geared or under geared. Which is a condition that is such a perfect reflection of my life that it can’t be ignored.

During the intervals there are effectively two gears: hard and harder. The hard gear allows me to spin a little bit more, but it still hurts. The harder gear makes my legs burn, which is the point. The two gears match today’s two mind sets: frantic and hateful.

Last year my spin was beautifully smoothed. I spend hours cultivating it and used it to good effect in the races I lined up for. Sometime over the winter that spin left me. What once felt smooth has turned into a fast pedal stroke with a few hitches in it. To me it feels like running around without direction. My mind often jumps from one unrooted reality to another. I spend money I don’t have, all the while convincing myself that I can spend it, or change my behavior and save it. I come up with one crazy plan and hold it dear for an hour or two, then just as easily change my mind and come up with something different.

I know the hateful gear pretty well too. It comes on just as quickly, but with more frequency than the frantic mindset. There are a thousand things I’ve done wrong with my life. Things that have wronged and violated the trust of other people, and though I may have made amends for some of those failings they still sneak up on me. A harder turn of the crank doesn’t help resolve them, but it does amplify them.

The edge of light is still far off to the east as my second ten-minute interval comes to an end. I am still trying to ride toward the light. I don’t believe the metaphor I created for myself when I first noticed the light, though I create meaning from everything and it’s telling that I’ll never reach that lighted spot down the road.There is no salvation. Not after this life. Not on this Maundy Thursday. Not even on this coming Sunday. Salvation would be a finale, which is a long way off. The concurring of one demon only reveals that there is more work to be done. Another quality to work on and another confrontation with your lost integrity. Things do change. You do get better and managing your faults, a small spot of light. Things get better, but they get harder too.

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