This morning I took a little ride along a canal I frequently traverse. The canal runs parallel to an exclusive golf and country club. Although I’ve never been in this particular club, I can see quite a bit of the golf course’s perfectly manicured fairways and greens from my vantage point. The pristine landscape doesn’t hold a candle to an untended hedgerow of bougainvillea that runs along the backside of the property’s concrete privacy wall. The people inside those walls have no idea of the beauty and splendor on the backside of that wall. The colorful flowers beckon a wealth of birdlife and butterflies.
Although I’ve not visited this particular club, I’ve been to several just like it, usually to play golf. They’re all interchangeable with the same ostentatious surroundings and an overabundance of obnoxious people. Case in point, one time, about 10 or so years ago, the mister and I were playing a round of golf with friends at a club where we were members. I was pulled aside at the turn by a golf course employee who informed me my Lija golf shorts were considered to be too short by a group of ladies who were also playing that day. I was humiliated, to say the least, and forced to purchase a golf skort that reached well below my knees on my 5′ 3″ frame. Yeah, good times.
All this to say, the folks on the inside of that wall can keep their perfectly manicured property and I’ll happily stick to riding my bike on the far side of the canal, taking in the breathtaking view of unkemp bougainvillea, birds and butterflies. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.
“I began to feel that myself plus the bicycle equaled myself plus the world, upon whose spinning wheel we must all learn to ride, or fall into the sluiceways of oblivion and despair. That which made me succeed with the bicycle was precisely what had gained me a measure of success in life — it was the hardihood of spirit that led me to begin, the persistence of will that held me to my task, and the patience that was willing to begin again when the last stroke had failed. And so I found high moral uses in the bicycle and can commend it as a teacher without pulpit or creed. She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.” ~Frances E. Willard, ‘How I Learned To Ride The Bicycle’, 1895
Yep. This pretty much sums up my regard for riding a bike. I recently came upon this passage from Frances Willard’s How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle: Reflections of an Influential 19th Century Woman. Willard, who took up biking in 1893, at the age of 53, was (and still is) a well-known suffragette. Originally published in 1895, How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle was penned by Willard as a means to provide insight into both the profound impact of the bicycle at the turn of the century and the newly discovered freedom it afforded women in America.
To me, bicycling represents many things. I too, experience the unparalleled freedom Willard alluded to. Perhaps I’m narrow-minded, but I think everyone must feel this sense of freedom and the deep, personal satisfaction one experiences astride a bike, to one degree or another. Whether you ride a bike for fitness, exploration, recreation, the sheer freedom you feel, or because it’s your primary mode of transportation and/or transport, when you ride a bike your bike is a cherished and oftentimes necessary possession. That’s why I’m troubled each and every time I encounter the following.
I’ll never understand why someone would chuck a bicycle in a canal, lake or empty lot. Aside from the wanton destruction of property, I give a hoot and would never intentionally pollute. My first instinct is the bikes are stolen. Whether or not that’s the case, I’ll probably never know. What I do know is this. Those bicycles, in their watery graves, are depriving someone of a lot of joy, freedom, fitness, recreation and transportation. At least that’s what I think when I happen upon them, which happens far more than these four photos indicate.
Boy, it sure does feel good to be back in a groove. As much as I am a creature of change and wanderlust, I’m also a person who thrives on routine. To say the first three months of 2017 took me off my game and out of my routine is a gross understatement.
J-man’s seizure and subsequent testing, my mother’s cancer diagnosis and the death of a beloved canine companion truly sent me into a tailspin. I’m usually a happy, upbeat gal, but these events, in a very brief period of time, sent me into a blue, blue, blue funk. I’m talking the not-wanting-to-get-out-of-bed-all-day kind of funk that is unsettling and frightening. These events, the depression (let’s call it what it was), compounded with seemingly never-ending, virtually drug resistant bouts of sinus infections and bronchitis for both me and J-man really upended my world. And the “well meaning” folks who said, “It could be worse, you know,” made things even worse because that just made me feel like an overall crappy person who apparently lacks faith. I spent the first three months of 2017 doing virtually nothing except existing. I didn’t ride. I didn’t run. I didn’t walk. Heck, I didn’t even walk the dogs. Needless to say, my physical and emotional well-being suffered. I felt horrible in every sense of the word.
Greg and I participated in a 61 mile off road Grinduro ride Sunday. Although I’ve done longer rides by far, this ride was the most physically difficult ride I’ve ever done. I was completely out of shape, both mentally and physically. I completed the ride but it was a sufferfest for me. But you know what? It was exactly what I needed. It kick started me mentally and jolted me out of the dark space I had backed myself into. The ride illuminated, with a bright spotlight, just how far I had let myself go. I’m not talking in just a physical sense, I’m talking in every sense of my being.
As much as I hurt physically Monday morning, Jackson and I got back on the bike and I’ve since crept slowly back into a (healthy) routine. It’s been a week of physical activity for me, and I feel better than I’ve felt in months.