Jul 17, 2011

Ride Log 1: Texas Bound: August 2011

It was around 10:30 PM and I was riding to my house, the full moon guiding me on a dark country road.  I was wearing my riding pants and jacket but because of the distance I had to go (a mere 11 miles) and the weather, I chose to slip on a pair of converse instead of my heavy boots.  It's always a mistake when I do that, since I spend most of the ride imagining what would become of my ankles if I were to crash.  And, well, to be honest, once I start imagining that, my mind leads me to other areas as I replay my imaginary crash bit by bit in slow motion.  First, I weave to avoid the deer and then the rear tire hits gravel and I quickly over compensate with a fast turn and a slamming of the breaks.  In my mind, I'm razzled and accidentally hit the front brakes instead of the rear (and trust me, this is something I would totally do) and am thrown over the handlebars and onto the ground.  I land on my shoulder and as I tear all the muscles and dislocate the shoulder, my head contacts the ditch and causes a concussion and a bit of whiplash.  Not to be forgotten, my hip slaps the ground and the hip padding that has always seemed too bulky suddenly is wholly inadequate.   I begin my slide into the far side of the ditch as the bike follows me and almost tumbles over me.  In my mind I lay there until a car sees what's left of the bike and stops to find me, battered and bruised but only managing to mumble, "My bike, how's my bike?"

This is not the first time my imagination has led me down a path of destruction compliments of my riding.  However, this was the first time that I stopped to imagine what would hurt the worst.  Would it be my shoulder, which took the brunt of the fall, or my ankles, raw from being dragged on the asphalt and then pushed into the dirt, bloody and bony?  After much consideration I suddenly realized the damage to my body would be painful but eventually I'd get over it.  It would be my pride that would be tortured.  My pride that would have me looking down in shame as anyone asked what happened.

My pride?  Would that really matter?  Not just yes, but HELL yes.   That put some things into perspective for me.

I thought of all the times I'd dreamed of a destination but didn't even begin the journey because there were too many unknown variables.  One, I didn't make the time.  Two, I didn't really want to go alone.  Not that I was afraid, but more that I'm pretty clueless when it comes to the bike.  I don't know how to do things that I should know how to do.  Tire problem?  Oil light on?  Bike running rough?  Not running at all?  Stopped on the side of the road with no cell coverage and no one to call anyway?  What would I do?  And would some dude pull up and in two seconds fix the issue, walking away, shaking his head at how silly I was for being out there alone with no idea?

I realized those issues wouldn't be the end of the world.  I would get past them.  I would find help, get back on the road and carry on.  That's what I've always done.  Pick myself up and carry on.  There is no reason I wouldn't do the same thing as far as the bike is concerned.  Suddenly, riding to Texas didn't sound so difficult.  I'd always wanted to do it, had in fact been threatening to make the ride for about three years.  What was stopping me this year?  Just myself.

So I did what anyone who has just faced an imaginary wreck would do.  I put two weeks of vacation on the work calendar and cancelled my summer class.  I contacted my friend in Texas and told her to expect me in early August.  I rounded up a dog sitter, house sitter and someone to water my garden.  And guess what?  None of that was difficult.

Now, if only I was actually a planner.  What I've accomplished thus far has little to do with the trip itself and everything to do with trying to get my work done in order to go.  The hardest part was that first step, actually admitting that if I didn't go now, I probably never would.  I finally faced the fact that I had more to lose by NOT going than by going.  When you realize that there is no question about your next step.   The only question left is where the journey will take you.

And that's what life is about.  The Journey.  

Milner: Someday. That's a dangerous word. It's really just a code for 'never'. (Knight and Day, 2010)

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