So I turned 50 today. It might be a milestone year but I did not feel that “special day” vibe. This one came and went as quickly as the last 49. I’m not saying that it did not leave a bit of a wrinkle, I’m just not sure I am ready to embrace the reality. Some might celebrate with fanfare, parties, and black bowed gift bags containing geriatric products all intended to spark a response as if to say “hey look how old you are and how closer you are to staring the grim reaper square in the face. So you may as well toast it with a glass of prune juice. Yuk Yuk.” So this morning I filled my bidon with water and set off for my first 50 mile ride of the year.
The last few months have not been promising as I head into the ride season. My recent busted wing led to a holiday couch cruise which led to a few extra unwanted Cornish game hens around the waist. Plus some ongoing post spinal op issues that have slowed me down a bit. So I have been refocusing and have seen some progress in my fitness and pace. I have been embracing the challenge. Today was an important day to get the bike rolling again.
Prepping for 50 solo miles is a more than a handful for me this early in the season. Not to mention the incoming rain and sporadically gusting winds dedicating themselves to making my ride more of a challenge than what I expected. But I found that every ride seems to have its own personality. Its highs and lows. You start slow. Kind of like a crawl just loosening up the legs so you can get to the next level. Then you find a rhythm. Next is a stretch where the tailwind pushes your pace and you smile to yourself and say “wow I am strong today”. Then you begin the return and realize you’re not. So you need to push till you find another zone you can sit on. All while the clouds loom large and rain falls until the skies clear up and you see the reflections of your self off the tarmac. I start my ride questioning my motivation. I finish it wishing I had further to go. If it took 50 years to get to the point where I am now. I am hoping to keep spinning because I know my ride will always evolve into something more.
I was given some wonderful gifts today by family and friends. Gifts celebrating my love for the bike. To help me cycle farther, and faster into my journeys. But one gift seem to truly embody the spirit of my whole day.
My daughter handcrafted something that illustrates it quite well. A simple hand crafted needle print that defines the duality of not only my ride but of my life. Every mountain I climb there may be a victory. But what I realize is that I cannot find joy in how fast it took me to get there. My goal is to stay on the bike. I will never own a yellow jersey. Nor a polka dot climbers jersey. But I love the ride and I am willing to embrace what the jerseys mean to those who keep going. It is still early in the season. And there are many miles left to embrace. Onward.