Yes, I bicycled here

It’s a simple enough, one pedal stroke after the next, left, right, left, right, left. I lean into the turn, feather the brakes as I zip down a hill, stand up on the pedals and bounce over the railroad tracks. For a few minutes, sometimes even hours most days I am one with my bicycle, it is meditative, challenging, and relaxing all at once. Sweat drips off my brow, my nose fills with mucus, I cough, and I catch my breath as I come to a stop. In colder months I rub my hands together and to warm them up. Like our bodies a bicycle is a wonderfully simple machine and yet complex all at the same time. I treasure the days where I get to go out and feel the wind against my face and pedal along to work, the store, to meet friends, or just to enjoy the world around me.

I made a bicycling mileage goal for myself this year. The number was quite ambitious and I think I will numerically fall short of meeting the goal. I am proud of the progress I’ve made and feel like I’ve won even if I “fail”. I can see how much farther and easier I can go compared with early this year. I’m back down to my pre-desk job weight.  For me it was more motivating to have a goal that is challenging to meet. Feeling the need to chase the number all year has helped me get out on the bicycle on days when I would otherwise stay firmly planted on the couch. Yes, there have been days where my lungs kept me inside or I cut a ride short. Other days mother nature has literally rained on my parade. I will bundle up and go out in the cold as long as there isn’t ice on the ground. I can’t go far, long, or hard in cold weather without asthma troubles. That’s ok, I can still go somewhere.

Bicycling has refined my sense of patience. It forces me to slow down and be truly present in the moment. I can’t push the accelerator to the floorboard and be there 5 minutes sooner. While I can certainly move slower or faster on the bicycle there is an absolute upper limit of speed. It is literally impossible for me to try to cram 3 events spanning 40 miles of travel into a single Saturday afternoon if I’m going by bicycle. Perhaps this means I’ll take the car, or put my bike on the light rail for part of the journey. Or I decide which experience is most important to me and fully commit to one thing that afternoon.

After a particularly challenging asthma and allergies week, I find myself starting over from square one on building up mileage and stamina. I have to conquer that hill yet again, and it feels just as much like an accomplishment as the first time I did. There are days where it is also incredibly frustrating, I want nothing more than to join my friends on a bike ride but I stay inside to keep my lungs and sinuses happy. The flip side is that I am forced to slowly build up distance and speed. I probably won’t have an overuse injury since my lungs will stop me before I can push myself that far.

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