Warmer summer days bring back some memories of my first few rides with Travis (aka my life partner). Our first rides together started out very simple, which I suppose, all the good ones do. There were no expectations of anything from either of us, just company and conversation.
I had a general nervousness at first, but I got over it. First off, I wasn’t a very awesome bike rider (I wasn’t fast.) Second, my bike wasn’t amazing. Third, well, there is no third unless you count I was shy as all get out.
All in all there was a lot of stuff going on in my life at the time I purchased my bike, and my bike rides were more or less my go-to for therapeutic relief of my ever-so chaotic mind and runaway thoughts. It was a time where I could get out of my house, not feel trapped, and experience the freedom my soul longed for.
Fast forward to the 31st of August, it was one day away from the full two week hiatus from my beloved bike. I had to rely on my car and feet to take me from point A to point B, and was feeling very frustrated with the whole thing. So, I’ll do what any able-bodied person with a penchant for mischief would do. I went out and biked a day earlier than I was supposed to.
I pride myself on listening and taking directions seriously, but my bike and I were like two long-lost lovers starving for romance. I waited until Saturday afternoon, feeling much more confident that the closer to 1 p.m. or so the better. It had to be Sunday somewhere in the world, right? I got myself dressed and put sunscreen on the bright pink skin of my nose and chin.
Travis had informed me a customer brought down some fresh baked cookies, so I figured it would be a great way to start off my “freedom” ride. After sating my chocolate craving with some homemade goodness, I started out on my bike ride and hoped I wouldn’t have swarms of trail traffic to contend with.
I love the fact people use our trail for recreating; my brain hates having to work so hard in observing and maneuvering around traffic. Also having to figure out and decide if the person on a bike ahead of me is worth passing or not. Will I catch up? Will I overtake? Will I pass them just for a moment, only to have them pass me right after the fact? Sometimes bike rides are not therapeutic, they end up being more like a game of strategy.
Onward and forward I went, going up the switchbacks and down the hills; enjoying the wind against my face. Grasshoppers flying at my extremities or my face were an unwelcome treat; crunching under my tires or slamming into my spokes. Acorns littered the trail in tricky areas, especially when coming down a hill; slow down but don’t lock those brakes! I worried a little, “Please do NOT let me have another accident!”
Eventually I got up all of the hills; I looked down over the switchbacks that would carry me down and away to the Hatchery. Little cabbage moths were flitting around, seeming to flirt with each other. Oh you little romantic creatures, in your creamy white and pale yellow colors.
I thought back to one of my early rides with Travis, how we managed to get me up farther on the switchbacks that day than I normally went. (My goal last year was to bike the full loop at least once before winter.) It was hot out, and likely a bit humid as well. We were both sweaty; I was likely having a hard time catching my breath. We stopped so I could rest up; during that time, two cabbage moths decided to investigate us.
We were apparently very appealing; a moth landed on the back of my knee to taste the salt of my skin. One landed on Travis’ arm; back and forth they went, I was in awe. It seemed so surreal at that point and almost like a sign of things to come.
Back to reality! With warm and fuzzy thoughts swimming in my head, the sound of crunching bugs and the sweat dripping from my face didn’t phase me one bit. However, riding into a cloud of gnats promptly ended my romantic feeling of the ride. I struggled to get the bugs off my mouth; stuck on my lip balm covered lips. I hoped I wouldn’t inhale a bug and choke on it, and I could only imagine how ridiculous I looked.
Finally home, I went to look in the mirror to assess the damages. My sun sunscreen covered face looked streaked and ghostly. I had at least 40 little black carcasses stuck to my sweaty, greasy skin. I had a smile on my face from ear to ear, helmet hair, and a sense of accomplishment. That was one heck of a good ride.