Riding my Enertia can be a purposeful journey, like my daily commute; or a meditation on escape, like my ride yesterday evening. Each type of ride has its own degree of usefulness, but lets talk about escape, today.
What’s going on in your life? Think about that question for a few seconds.
Was your answer a quick list of to-dos and the basics, like “work” or “school” or “finish that project”? I asked myself that question yesterday when I had a few moments to reflect, and my answer became a behemoth – a massive jumble of emotions (mostly sadness, following the death of my dog after a long battle with cancer) and tasks, and responsibilities.
I knew I had to get out and enjoy a ride in the suddenly bearable Missouri outdoors, as temperatures hovered in the low 80s for a change. I suited up and rolled down my suburban street, noting that people were surveying the damage of the recent heat wave on their brown lawns, washing their cars, and taking their dogs for a walk. I needed to get out of the neighborhood and explore some of the country roads that haven’t had the intrusions of suburbia thrust upon them yet.
I headed north, appreciating the smooth throttle response of my Enertia, and enjoying the tug of torque when I gave it a little flick — 35 mph soon became 55, before I had to back off. I was in what passes for rural when you’re this close to Kansas City, and I had to watch out for speed traps, tractors, and wildlife.
The roads around here are hilly and curvy, following the land that used to be river bluffs before a meander a few thousand years ago moved the river about 10 miles south. These roads are often covered by a ceiling of green trees, making your trip seem like a voyage though a verdant pipeline. It’s hypnotic, really, and relaxing, and beautiful, and cool, and WHAT TH-…
Not aware of my oncoming bike, a lone deer walked out onto the road in front of me. She was about 50 yards ahead when I first noticed her, plenty of time to stop before smacking her broadside . . . if I’d been covering the brake with a couple fingers, instead of dreaming about green pipelines. I did manage to brake – hard – and hit the horn a split second later. It was going to be pretty close unless the deer helped me out.
The deer moved – bolted, actually, when it heard my horn. And it even moved the right direction, away from the spot I was steering toward. I didn’t lock up my wheel or lose control, but it made me appreciate the traction of my tires (Avon Road Riders) and the strength of my brakes (Brembo). I had probably been moving at about 55mph when I saw the deer, so it was good that this “lesson” didn’t result in any negative consequences for me . . . or the animal.
Instead of making me ‘deer shy,’ though, the averted disaster ended up giving me more confidence in my riding and in the bike. Truth be told, after not riding for three decades, I’d had some trouble rediscovering my nerve. Remembering back to my days riding in t-shirts and shorts, helmet-less when I had the opportunity, had left me thinking “What a lucky idiot” rather than, “those were the days.” Now, I ride with gloves, armored jacket, helmet, and boots, even when it’s 105 degrees, like it was last Friday.
The confidence felt good – and the level of my riding probably increased a notch or two. When I headed home and realized I had enough juice left over for a few more minutes of riding, I went to an abandoned development near my house — great streets, no traffic, lots of curves — and practiced some turns and hard braking. Too much fun for a grown man to be having.
When I got home and parked the bike, I plugged it in, started charging it, and noticed the tires:
It appeared that finally, I’d put some wear on the side of the tire that, prior to this ride, had been new and pristine.
I took one last look at the bike before I headed back into my house.
The massive size of my answer to “What’s going on in my life” was still there, but after that ride, it seemed more manageable. Like a sleeping elephant instead of a stampeding one. And it made me think of one of my favorite sayings: “How do you eat an elephant?” — One bite at a time.