it's a new year. of course, not according to any calendar, but, i bought a new computer for my bike yesterday. that means i start all over again in logging miles. this morning, the computer was set at zero. it signaled a fresh new start.
this morning, i added air to my tires so i can add miles to my bike, to my legs, to my heart.
i set out with one small goal: get 20 miles in today no matter how it happens.... whether or not i ever have bikeface, i was going out. tired of not riding, of missing out on rides, waiting to make plans with friends, tired of finding excuses not to ride. tired of choosing work over riding. tired. just tired....
so i head out to a hike and bike trail that circles a small airport 5 miles from my house. the route is immediately uphill, and then a long 3 miles downhill toward the river (and then back up, i add) to where the airport and the trail are. the rail trail is like most: wide, flat, bordered by trees and hedges, and full of people.
|long flat and straight, perhaps the only place like this in cincy.|
it's a beautiful saturday morning. sunny, 75 degrees, no wind. couples are walking and biking and running and strolling with children, small airplanes are taking off from the airport.
it feels like a new home in a way i haven't yet felt.
|small airplanes lined up at the hangar, reminiscent of boats in the docks in saugatuck, mi.|
but i notice something is wrong.
people are out here on this beautiful day, and no one is smiling. every single person i see looks so serious, pensive, or just blank. i was especially saddened to see so many people on bikes frowning and overworking and clearly not having fun.
i checked in on myself. was i one of them? what must i have been showing them?
did i have bikeface? was i too serious? i realized that i had started out feeling weak and out of shape, barely able to hold a 17mph pace, which used to be easy for me a few months ago.... starting to become discouraged...
i decided that i better stop paying attention to my own disappointments in my own cycling, and find a way to focus my attention elsewhere. to let off the gas of my own unreasonable expectations for a moment...
so, i launched an experiment during my second loop around the airport (8 miles of flat rail trail partially shaded and full of people).
i put on my bikeface (by now, it didn't feel like it had to be put on, by the way, as after a few miles, even after being off the bike for nearly 3 weeks, even though i was slow and not the rider i hoped i was, it didn't take long for me to feel bikeface).
i decided to say hello to every single person i passed, and made sure i smiled at them. i wanted to see what would happen.
i passed a couple going in the opposite direction on their upright cruisers. blankfaced, just cruising along. i smiled. "good morning" i said. immediately, their faces lit up and they both responded, "hi."
as i approached two younger women out on a walk, i said, "good morning, on your left." as i passed i heard one of them say to the other, "i want to start cycling." (i nearly turned back to talk to her, to encourage her to just do it.)
i passed a guy on a mountain bike taking his own time... again i said, "good morning, on your left." and smiled as i went by. he said "good morning."
as i passed and greeted each person, i noticed a pattern. i could change the expression on their faces just by saying hello and smiling.
the only person who beat me to the punch was a 5 year old boy who passed me going in the other direction. "hi" he said to me. "he gets it" i said to myself. i said, "hi" back, and continued on my way. (it turns out he had long outdistanced his dad and younger brother... he clearly knew what this was about.)
anyway.... it was becoming clear that it's absolutely possible to give away bikeface.
this ride helped me today. even though i didn't ride fast, or long. i was able to push through the loneliness i feel when i ride alone. i was able to push through feeling like a stranger when i think of my cycling community that i left back in michigan, and the new cycling community here in cincinnati that i am learning to be a part of. i feel better knowing that i can find some (some) enjoyment out of a solo ride. i can do something small to maybe make it all better, for me, and maybe for someone else too.
today, i learned to give away bikeface. and that makes it a very happy new year's day. a great first 24 miles on my ol' trusty little red bike....