It was the end of a cool autumn day, and I was sitting on my yoga mat. I thought back to the morning (albeit late morning); my ablutions were complete and I got out on my daily constitutional. (That means walk for those not in the American South.) Walking is good for the heart, I thought, and then I remembered that I was supposed to have some heart tests this year. They were too expensive without insurance, so I didn’t have the tests. What with the pandemic and not getting younger, I’ve been wrestling with the beast that is U.S. health insurance (and losing). So after my walk, I read some stuff on the internet and called some people.
On one of those calls, I got some bad news from a friend, a colleague, really. They were pretty ill, but getting through it. Although I wasn’t raised to pray to a deity, this person was and has a good heart; I’ve always admired their sunny disposition. I’ve also known some Quakers and always appreciated their practice of sitting in silence, and their concept of “holding someone in the light.” So tonight after my bike ride and daily yoga, I flipped my Insight Meditation Timer app over to meditate and chose a five-minute one about compassion in honor of my friend. Usually I wait until I’m hitting the hay to meditate, so I tend to pass out before it’s done, or it doesn’t make much of an impact. Today, for some reason, it stuck with me.
Here’s the thing: I didn’t set out to bike 366 days in a row. If you had a crystal ball and told me my future a year ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. I just went on my birthday ride, a mile per year of life, as I have done the last several years. But instead of taking the next day or more off to rest like a normal person, I became more like Forrest Gump: I just kept bike-ing and bike-ing and bike-ing… Except there was no Robin Wright as Jenny yelling, “Bike, A Dude, bike!”
The Energizer bunny I’m not. I’m just a middle-aged, slightly overweight (aka fathlete), regular guy who chose the bicycle as his vehicle for his mid-life crisis mobile. I can’t tell you why I did this, except at some point it was simply to see if I could do it. And now I have. Don’t believe me? Check my Strava activity log – it’s all there. But this isn’t really about me. Here’s the main thing I want to tell you: If I can do it, most of you can, too.
Being away from home and my bike for a day has put me in a contemplative mood. Mysterious recent health challenges have made bicycling harder than it should be. It’s already hard enough, in 100 degrees, being a fathlete, trying to not get dead by distracted drivers, not having a light bike with 27 gears anymore. For 19 months I’ve had the luxury to do daily walking, writing in my book or this blog, and doing yoga every day (the latter for much longer). And on most of the days of my life for the last 14+ years, but especially since 2015, I have ridden my bike. Over 20,000 miles since 2005, by my count. What if it all came to an end tomorrow?
If you ride your bicycle regularly, you may have noticed that lots of little stuff happens that probably doesn’t happen for people dependent on cars to get around. Sometimes it’s big stuff, like you: go on a long ride, compete in a race, get a new bike, set a personal best on that Strava segment. The little stuff that goes on, while not as headline-worthy, is just as interesting, to me at least. There is often more than meets the eye if one is willing to look deeper. Let’s take a look at four things that happened to A Dude and find out.
Sometimes it happens that people do mean things. At a new temporary work gig, I met the new boss (same as the old boss). He had a hissy fit about something where he assumed one thing but reality was another, and then stormed off. Not my prob, so whatevs. Merry Fucking Christmas to you, too, Scrooge!
After a quick change of clothes (and attitude) at home, I was about 1/3 of the way into my bike ride when Sophie’s rear wheel punctured from a tiny piece of glass in the road somewhere. Probably from somebody who threw a beer bottle into the bike lane. It had worked it’s way deep into the rubber. Boo hoo for me! Just bad luck, or karma? Continue reading