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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My New Teacher

Meet my new teacher; it's a Cannondale mountain bike.

Like many synchronistic meetings in my life, I didn’t really go looking for it. Was thinking of getting a road bike, now that all three children can ride. Went to Just the Right Gear in Salem; they had been so patient and helpful when I bought a bike for my daughter. After a talk with the owner, I chose a mountain bike with tires that would let me occasionally road bike.

Now, I’m not unfamiliar with bikes; but it’s been 20-some years since I road regularly. Bikes have changed! And, mountain biking is different from road biking; the first time I came upon a rock, I squished my eyes shut preparing to get dumped; and instead, just flew right over that sucker. Wow!

I’ve been meeting friends and riding out at Carvins Cove (which is a little slice of heaven) about once a week. REALLY fun; like I’m 12-years old again and so brave and so free.

Mountain biking gets me out in nature; gives me a feeling of freedom and ease; is great exercise; and there are no worries of traffic or crazy car drivers. It’s so fun trying to jump the bike over piles of logs and flying down hills. It reminds me of those days of building ramps out of bricks and old boards with my brother; doing crazy stuff I’d probably never let my kids try now.

On my very first ride I was sucking wind; not used to riding; and two of my friends zipped off in a little friendly competition. Another rider hung back with me, introduced himself and we started to talk. “This is my therapy” he explained. Now, I totally get that.

There are so many amazing metaphors between life and riding the bike. Like if you focus on the obstacles, you’ll steer right into them, so be sure to keep your eyes on the path you want to choose, and not what’s in your way.

Remember not to be gawking at the scenery while riding; sometimes I want to look around, it’s so incredibly beautiful! But don't let the mind get distracted, or think about your grocery list. Out of nowhere obstacles appear; a root, a rock, a low-hanging tree, and BAM, down you go. So if you’re gonna ride, RIDE; and if you’re gonna rest, REST. Multi-tasking is overrated.

It also helps me to remember when facing a steep hill, or a place in the path where I’ve gotten stuck before to just put my head down and pedal; because if I obsess, or look far ahead, it’s too daunting. If I just put my nose down and deal with the little bit of the path that’s right in front of me, then it’s just not so difficult. You just get on through it, and keep moving.

Riding with my friends has helped me to see how often I put myself down (in my mind and out loud); apologizing for not keeping up, or for struggling with a portion of the path; or for having to get off and walk the bike up a hill or through the mud. We have a running joke about how often I have said “sorry” – something I have struggled with for years. They are my friends; they don’t mind waiting up for me, or helping me out. Why do I struggle to accept their kindness and their help?

Recently while making several attempts to jump a log pile, I got a little scraped and bruised up. Showing them to my friend with a laugh, he said “It’s all about quality of lifestyle . . . .”

Yeah . . . riding may occasionally leave me with a bump or a bruise or a cut; but each time it happens, I’m a little wiser and a little stronger; and it’s WAY better than staying home on the couch and missing out on the fun.



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