I Was in the Music

January 9, 2012

(Originally written 1/4/2012, before this blog was up and running.)

Tonight I understood much.  I understood better how to pace myself on longer rides.  When to let go, when to hold back.  I understood, more than ever before, that cycling is about patience, persistence. Goals are achieved not by dead sprinting, not by unremitting brute force, but by the accumulation of effort over time.  The next mile is reached, the next town, the next ride distance, the next goal.

I understood, too, the wisdom behind the sage advice from the “good book”: “Ride lots”.  I felt, more than any time before, a connection with my bike, a kinship, literally a closeness. I was able to transcend, for a time – and not through a conscious effort – the objective reality that there was “me” and there was “the bike”.  For a time we were one machine, one movement – one.

Other boundaries dissolved.  At once, as though awaking inside a dream with full knowledge it is a dream, I realized that I was totally free from the “idea” of riding the bike. I was simply, and beautifully, riding the bike.  Seems such a small distinction, but it was quite magic.

Some years ago, on an afternoon when I was completely lost inside the music in my headphones, I had the distinct impression that I could “travel through music”. Tonight, for the first time in many years, I had essentially the same feeling. As the boundaries between bike and rider, between effort and freedom, between work and reward, dissolved, I found myself inside the music in my ears.  Traveling in a beautiful, timeless, almost synaesthetic space.  Aware but unfocused.  Present but not deliberate.  Abandoned to the sheer delight of the ride.

I understood the wisdom of keeping one’s energy stores replenished during long rides.  I had already biked nearly as far as any other day of my life, and I realized tonight’s adventure was nearing the end.  Future days, I will bring a bit of food, a bit of my favorite health drink, and allow the show to go on. For tonight, I set a course for home.

I made one final stop at the truck stop outside town to dismount and stretch my legs. I cruised slowly past many trucks sitting idly, their drivers resting, eating or sleeping for the night. I counted them – 3, 6, 9, 12, a good 20 trucks idling side by side with others coming in to refuel.  I felt their power and drank it in. I felt strong and alive.

I understood much tonight. I understood that there will be big victories for me on future days.  I will accomplish longer local rides than tonight’s.  I will accomplish a wonderful trail ride, then in time a much longer one.  I understood that everything I hoped my bike would bring me when I bought it has come to pass, and much more which I never imagined.

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