In which I am very rational.

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On the first day with a new (to me) bike, I had the inkling that a ride was mandatory. Not that I actually wanted to try out my new bike on the road, of course, but I took myself in hand, gritted my teeth and got on with the job which simply had to be done.

Okay…
Maybe the reality is that I spent my morning walking around my house aimless and blissful, trying to prepare to leave, but always coming back to the living room to stare at my bike. Due to my state of semi-incapacity when I finally headed down the road I left a few crucial things at home. Personally, I think I did better than to be expected under the circumstances. I did, for instance, sleep well last night, which surprised me.

My longest ride to date has been 39 miles. When I set out my thinking was rational. I would be gentle and let my body adjust to the bike by riding a nice 26 mile loop and take a few hours on the way to visit my nieces and nephews. But after stopping there, I discovered that the bike wanted to go just a bit farther then I had originally planned. (I couldn’t say no so early on in our relationship, now could I? I want to establish proper hierarchy right from the start.)

In the end we covered fifty miles together.
I arrived home…
Sore. My body isn’t used to being on a bike for that length of ride to start with, throw in adjusting to a different style of bicycle and presto! My shoulders and butt are filing lawsuits against my rashness.
Sun burned.
Itchy. I have this weird allergy thing that produces mounds of hives on my arms upon exposure to early spring sun. It only lasts a couple weeks, thankfully.
Starving. I hadn’t brought any food with me.
And completely, totally happy.

The bike is fast, the ride is smooth and I have never felt so powerful in my life. There is a chance I will want to ride it again sometime. Like maybe tomorrow.

I can’t stop smiling.

Yesterday was a great day. The weather was perfect on my morning ride. Everything has burst into a lovely shade of green and I found it mesmerizing.

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Trees are budding and the young fresh leaves are beautiful. But that isn’t why I can’t stop smiling.

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Friendly draft horses are always fun to see out on a ride. But that isn’t why I can’t stop smiling.

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A beautiful sky on a quiet country road makes my heart sing. But that isn’t why I can’t stop smiling.

I came home from my ride, thinking what I wonderful day it had turned out to be. It only got better. I bought a road bike! And I checked this morning and guess what? It still exists! (And may have carved out a place in my living room.)

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Trek Lexa SLX

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Do you want a ride?

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Now that the snow has melted, people have been coming up to me, curious about the experience I had while biking through the winter. In a few sentences I explain the basics: it was challenging, but I learned so much about myself, felt God’s presence in amazing ways and that biking through a heavy snowstorm is one of the best things ever. After I finish my little spiel, the standard reaction I get is a laugh and then either one of two things, “Well, I glad you had fun and stayed safe!” or “You are crazy!” (Or a combination of the two.) And then we move on in the conversation and that is that.

But one night I was talking to a guy that my family has known for many years; I respect him and his wife immensely. The topic of winter biking came up but after I had finished explaining that it had been awesome, something strange happened. He didn’t laugh and he didn’t move the conversation to a different topic. Instead he nodded encouragingly, so I plunged in to tell a few more details. Then he started asking me questions, so I told him how in the heaviest snowstorms I felt the presence of God closer than I ever had in my life. I also mentioned that I experienced God’s joy and delight filling me while I plunged through the majesty and wonder of the snow.

“When you do something and you feel God’s delight in you, it doesn’t matter how crazy people think you are, does it?” He asked gently. He then went on tell me of times in his own life when felt God’s joy mingling with his. But it didn’t stop there. He told me stories of Christians that he either knew or had read about who had done crazy things for the glory of God.

During the rest of conversation, he told me to not be afraid to live life differently, but to embrace whatever path God leads me down. I can’t even describe how his words made me feel. While most people are slightly shocked that I would live car free and bike in the winter, he encouraged me that this could be just the beginning. He told me to go all out and do crazy things with God and for the glory of God. “Keep on biking and keep on following God.”

It was one of the most encouraging conversations I have ever had in my life.

I was out on my bike when this same friend happened to see me on the road. He paused while he was passing me to ask if I wanted a ride. Now you must understand that since I live in a small, helpful community, I have been asked that question many times by acquaintances and strangers alike. People have asked so frequently that as soon as I hear a car slow down beside me, my response is already on the tip of my tongue.

“I’m good, thank you!”

At this point I am so programmed to say, “I’m good, thank you!” that I sincerely believe that I would blurt out exactly that, without regard to the actual comment.

“Hey, the bag fell off your bike!” (I’m good, thank you!)

“There is a tornado behind you!” (I’m good, thank you!)

Did you know that a bull is chasing you?” (I’m good, thank you!)

So when he pulled beside me and asked if I wanted a ride my response was quite predictably, “I’m good, thank you!” After he pulled ahead, his tone and body language clicked in my mind. The guy hadn’t really been offering me a ride at all! He knew I was perfectly happy on my two wheels. He knew that I didn’t need the help of a motorized vehicle to arrive at my destination. In fact, he may have even been slightly jealous that he wasn’t the one out on a bike ride.

It is a wonderful thing that people care enough about me to stop and offer me a ride.

But do you know what is even more wonderful?

When someone cares and understands me enough to sarcastically offer me a ride.

Wait a second. Is it morning?

DSC00288For much of the year biking into work means biking, for all practical purposes, at night. The only indication that it is actually early morning is the time. But now that spring has returned, the days are getting longer and dawn is coming earlier.

This morning, just before I got to work, I realized that the eastern sky was beginning to get slightly lighter. Much to my delight, a few songbirds began to serenade me with a cheerful morning chorus.  What wonderful music to get me ready for a day at work!

As I dismounted my bike at the shed behind my workplace, I took a few minutes to appreciate the brisk air of a early May morning. And it will just get better.  For the next few months, I will be able to see more of the sunrise during every commute into work. ( I will never get to see the full sunrise when I ride into work. But that is what days off are for!)

On my commute home from work, the temperature was almost 70. I can’t believe it will actually be getting warmer than that. It is time to sweat, I suppose. Yay.  It is so warm out that the giant white dog got a haircut. He tried to chase me in a dignified manner, but I could tell that he was pretty self-conscious about his trim. He wanted me to take him seriously as a threat, but I think he heard me laughing at him. Oops. Next time I will have to act really scared and pedal like mad to make it up to him.

April is over.

DSC00272Today is the first day of May! That is pretty exciting. But that also means that the month of April and 30 Days of Biking are over. I am so glad I decided to bike every day this month because it got rid of the question, “Should I bike today?” The reality is that every day is a great day to get out for a ride and this month confirmed that for me.

At the start of April, I thought it would be awesome if I could maintain a 20 mile daily average through the month. But then I let logic kick in, which informed me that there was no way I could get in that many miles. So I set my goal for the month at five hundred miles.

Here’s the cool thing: I totaled up all my biking for the month and I made it! I ended up getting an average of 20 miles per day with my total for the month at 606 miles, which makes April a record breaking month for me. I can’t wait to see how this coming month will turn out!

In other news, my dad and I were able to visit a few bike shops yesterday. I was able to ride a few bikes, talk to some smart biking people and get a much better sense of what kind (and size) of bike I am looking for. My fingers are crossed and hopefully I will have a new road bike soon!

It was great fun to hang out with my dad and see him “talk bike” in the stores. He used to commute by bike and cycle around with some guys from work back before the size of my family exploded, so I always learn something by talking to him about bikes. He has been overwhelmingly helpful through this whole bike buying business, I have no idea how I could do this without him.