Friday, July 3, 2015

Riding After Rains, Essentially Free

Riding after the rain, overcast and cool(er)

I worry too much. Too much. Like, wake up in the middle of the night worrying about it, kind of worrying. About stuff which, on examination, is minor. Logically, rationally, it's clear I should not do that, but whatever it is that powers that, revs it back up, and I start worrying again.

Often, riding the bike quiets that down. I think it's because I feel like I'm in the zone, the Csikszentmihalyi zone, where doing something with effort which is also good, meet. 

Sheep on the butte. He was all like, "No worries, mate!" (he's a zoo resident, but you can't tell from this side)

I was reading Elly Blue's fantastic book, "Bikenomics," before I set out this morning on my day off Tri-city Tour EZ spin, and came across a section where she points out that riding a bike costs practically nothing, particularly in comparison to other modes. That translated into the phrase "essentially free" in my mind, which I played with on this ride. 

Hunt's Tomb, a ready symbol of the anxiety of fate and death

First, there's the meaning most in line with Blue's usage, basically free of cost, no money was expended in the making of this ride. My 2005 Lemond should be fully depreciated by now, and other than tightening the rear hub last week, I wouldn't say there was any noticeable maintenance pre- or post-ride today. OK, there were some costs for food, etc, but let's go ahead and settle on no noticeable or required expense to ride.

Next, there's the meaning of essentially free to ride wherever I wanted to go. I set out, and thinking about the rains last night, decided to strike a route which would take me near, but hopefully not through, any mud or water aftermath. It worked well, but I went wherever I felt like, at whatever speed I wanted, stopping where I desired, and taking photos or watching birds, sheep, and lizards splashing in the mud puddles.

Desert version of a tide pool, just teeming with life when I stopped to study it up close

I also came up with the meaning of being free from oppression or injustice. This one felt particularly relevant on this July 4 weekend. I felt gratitude for this one, not living in fear, not trying to hide from power or might.

Also, essentially free of physical pain. This is an important one, too, as it hasn't always been that way, and I expect will not stay that way indefinitely. But on this ride, this day, I owned the zone of spinning my feet round in round in circles on the pedals and felt only the pleasure of muscles turning food into miles.

Finally, to bring some kind of balance to this post, essentially free from worry. The world did not change during my two hours on the bike, but perhaps I altered slightly. Something in the sight adjusts itself to midnight, and life steps almost straight, according to Emily Dickinson. The ride brings on the best sort of courage, the spinning, human-powered kind, wherein the self is affirmed, perspective is gained, any and all worries are gathered up and brought inside, shelved neatly where they belong, in priority order in the to-do case, ready to check off when time, opportunity, and the chance routing and timing of a freely chosen bike ride permit.


  1. If you worry about rain, come to Ocean Shores and we will cure that rather quickly. Nearly 80 inches of rain per year here...

    1. I think I would go dig for clams, and not worry about a thing.


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