I have talked plenty about how cycling has provided a therapeutic balance to my life and soul and body, rescued me in a sense, a type of salvation. When life seems tough or I am not feeling physically well, riding brings me back to focus, calms me in a way that brings healthy clarity. In a sense, riding also allows me to reach inside myself, find that place where I can approach my maker. I believe that my existence is truly my soul. Riding brings me there like nothing else can. Cycling is God’s gift to me, one of the ways he is able to communicate with me.
The past few days have required calm and clarity. Stress was affecting me physically, enough that I was concerned. I need to think through the new challenges with a wisdom that I really don’t possess. Thankfully, I have a strong relationship with my father as well as solid friendships that provide support. When it comes down to it, though, the decisions are mine to make — although the decisions also involve my son and his mother, my ex. There is temptation to simply appease them, bandage the new wound caused by the loss of my son’s car. If the decision is a quick fix, it’s not likely going to be the most sound decision. My ex wants to buy him another car. That’s the quick fix. But I have a large federal tax bill to pay, property taxes due by the end of May. Adding another payment to an already tight budget will not be a wise decision.
It took some slowing down to bring me to the point of knowing that waiting is the best approach. My body and mind had to slow down together to come to that point. Cycling and prayer has done that for me, I think, as well as spending some time with a good friend.
Monday night, as I felt the affect of the previous day’s elevated stress and blood pressure, I skipped the opportunity to ride. Instead, I opted to ask a neighbor to share the fajitas I had slow cooked all. It wasn’t an evening of woe is me soul baring, it was an evening of enjoying the company of a friend, my body telling me quickly by the way I felt as I relaxed. It was the right thing to do. Funny, as I arrived home from work on Monday, I prayed and knew what to do that evening. It didn’t take a bike ride for me to be able to listen.
I needed more, though. My body needed to recover from the stress, even as I had began to relax. Tuesday evening temperature was in the upper 40s to low 50s, so I set out on my fat bike for a ride through the area forest preserves. Most of the crushed limestone trails were dry enough for an easy ride. As I warmed up, I felt the ease of pedaling and my pace picked up. Halfway into my ride, I crossed paths with two experienced riders, exchanged pleasantries as they admired my 9;Zero;7 fat bike (it’s a conversation piece as it’s a little unique). The pace was brisk and I was up to the task, my attitude coming up the more we rode. After a few miles, they headed in another direction as I broke off in the direction of Mount Hoy, a former landfill that provides a progressively steep and moderately long climb. I chose the path up the side of the landfill rather than the grassy slope for my climb, the satisfaction of pushing through the last 20 or so yards giving me energy as I crested the top of the landfill and was treated to the awesome clear view from the top. I circled the top a few times as I caught my breath, then streaked down the grassy slope on the other side, exhiliarated by the speed while I rushed towards the bottom. I cruised home through the woods and over the river bridge that had once served as the entrance to a franciscan sisters prayer retreat. The energy of the ride buoyed me the entire rest of the evening. I could already feel myself beginning to process more clearly the thoughts I need to address right now.
Last night was awesome, shirtsleeve and shorts weather, a welcomed day after the winter temperatures. Trail reports for the mountain bike trails I ride were that they were in prime condition. After making some adjustments to my bike, I loaded my bike up on the bike of my car, went to the trails. I was greeted there by Deni, an enthusiastic 19 year old who loves to ride with my friends and I. He and I rode for an hour and a half, once again at a strong pace, the rush of the singletrack adding even more energy. Once again, I came home feeling even better.
Cycling. Friends. All gifts from God. All ways he speaks to me. I feel it, understand more, thankful that I am able to listen.