I’m feeling a bit philosophical about having just finished bicycling the equivalent of one spin around the entire equator. It was no small feat, taking almost five whole years including rest days. After such an epic, long-term, half a decade of riding my bicycle, the question I get asked, and am naturally asking myself, is: What comes next? I dunno. But maybe I can begin to try to figure out an answer here.
A normal person, whatever that is, might take a break. Put the bike in the garage and don’t even look at her for a week or two or four or more. Rest the buttocks, the calves, the feet, the wrists, and all the rest of this old fathlete’s body. But I have miles to go before I sleep, so I’m going to a keep on truckin’. Or maybe ease on down the road. That’s because I stil have a goal for this year, which is basically to take the mileage of each of the previous four years and kick them in the ass with 2020’s miles. Like I said, miles to go before I sleep.
The thing about goals is when are they too much? I addressed this topic in Do You Have Fitness Goals? Or Do They Have You? Though I’m not sure I came up with any answers, it’s possible and in fact pretty likely, that I’m overdoing it. Bicycling at the speed I go on average is time consuming. So I do miss out on other things. Now that I’ve reached my big five-year goal, and haven’t firmly set on what to do after this year’s goal, the feeling is one of confusion, loss of focus or purpose, even. I’ve considered it sort of a job to bike as much as I have, and continue to. A fun one, but work just the same. So if that job is taken away (just as I was laid off after 11 years — the third anniversary of that is the day after Halloween), I’m left wandering and wondering what to do with myself.
The correct answer of course is to diversify my physical exercise. Bike less, swim more, maybe try weights or resistance bands at home, pilates, more vigorous yoga, walking faster. I started swimming then the ‘rona cancelled it. But that’s available again now, except it means going to an outdoor i.e. cold pool. Or swimming inside, and sharing lanes and possible germs, bugs, cooties and maybe a virus. And I could always do the other exercises if I had the time and motivation.
After my first year of spending a lot of T.ime I.n T.he S.addle, I thought I’d write a book. It was easier to bike, so it took me another 15 months to get started. These days, that book manuscript is resting comfortably, just waiting for me to relinquish control and give it to some beta readers and maybe an editor. I may have found someone who can edit and will give them a chapter to see if they’re interested. And I just need to stick my feet in the water world of beta readers to see how that goes. Do I necessarily have to read their work too? An apartment leasing agent actually said he might be interested in reading it. That would be great.
Speaking of apartments, looking for a place to live has been high on the list of things I have to do. Then there’s the packing, moving, cleaning, and unpacking. It’s hard enough to find an affordable place in Austin in normal times. But times are abnormal, so it’s more difficult. Today I identified two possibilities, and then got out to see them. In both cases, the homeowner and potential housemates were women. And both happened to own and ride bicycles. That’s not the only criteria, of course, but it certainly helps.
Moving through time and space as I have around the world on the bicycle, and again in the sense of changing residences, are just the next stage in the journey. How it goes, no body knows. I wrote a rambling rhapsodic post on this topic of change called Moving A Dude’s Abode and Body: A Buddhist View. There were no clear lessons or conclusions drawn.
Yet, as I mounted up on my bike again tonight in the 40-degree cold front with a very fine mist falling, I felt that I was exactly in the right time and place. Pedaling over familiar streets in the darkness, my headlights and streetlights illuminating my way, there were all the feelings. From the strain in my legs, knees and feet, the ache in the lower back, to the numbness in the wrists and seat area. Traffic flowed by. There’s a port-a-potty I knowso I stopped to do my business. Cold. Quiet. Effort.
I only saw a few episodes, but I read about how the makes of the HBO series The Sopranos chose to end it. The last scene of the finale shows Tony doing something he’d normally do, like ride in a car. And then it fades to black, with the song Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey playing. The explanation for why the creators did it that was was they wanted to show the character just kept on being who he was, doing what he did. And I suppose that may be how it is for most of us. We just keep on keepin’ on, doing that voodoo that you do so well.
For me, it’s biking. I can’t think of a better way to go where I need to or want to go. And that’s enough for me for now.
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