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In My Solitude

October 27, 2011

Today’s Ride: 107km—Moffatt

Weather: Cold, bordering on frigid

End of October. Temperatures dropping. The thermometer read 3 degrees as I set out this morning, and I’m not sure it had climbed at all by midday. I actually took my booties out to the garage, but decided that it seemed mild enough to leave them. And I wore my fall gloves rather than my lobster-claw winter gloves. In retrospect I could have used the warmer gear.

Climbing out of the valley, my core warmed up, but fingers and toes never got comfortable. By the midway point, my hands were decidedly uncomfortable—numb and unhappy gripping the handlebars, be it tops, drops, or hoods. I kept trying to wiggle my toes, but this only reassured me that they were still connected… for now.

After riding casually with a group on Tuesday, I was on my own again today. Able to select the route and determine the pace. And change the route and pace as it suited me. As I get older, I find myself more and more of a loner. Not that Tuesday’s ride wasn’t pleasant—it certainly was—but different. Chatting on the bike is all well and good, but letting the mind wander as the kilometers tick over is almost a spiritual experience. Thoughts range. Sometimes I’m caught up in some element of my work or a family commitment; just as quickly, my attention turns to a particular aspect of the ride. After carving out a turn, my mind concentrates on how I could have taken the turn tighter or how pleasing or disappointing my descending might be. Or focusing on a climb—the joy of coming out of the saddle and the power in the legs as the bike sways to and fro beneath me. Tuned in at those moments. Without interruptions from companions. Communing with the ride is possible in company. On a longer ascent, chatter diminishes and something magical happens where all parties share in the same experience, breathing and cadence all synchronized. These are exhilarating moments, but they’re omnipresent on a solo ride. Every breath brings with it a new point of view. Every pedal stroke its own pain and excitement.

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