08 November 2015

A Ride, A Reflection

I have just taken an easy ride through the heart of Queens, to the far end of the borough and the near end of Nassau County.  It's Sunday, and the blaze autumn colors will soon turn into the ashes of fall, the foreshadowings of winter. 

I think I took the ride more for the opportunity to reflect on a few things than I did to exert myself physically.  I do that sometimes, especially at this time of year.  For me, there is something paradoxically clear and benevolent at the same time about the nip in the air and the light of days growing shorter.

There have been seasons that ended with my wishing that I had ridden more, harder or to different places.  I feel no such yearnings now.  Of course, having the opportunity to cycle in Florida, Paris and Montreal, as well as taking rides from my place to Connecticut and various points in New Jersey and Long Island has given me kaleidoscope of images to take with me through the winter.  I don't plan to stop cycling: I never do that except, perhaps, for physical injuries or ailments (which, thankfully, I don't experience often) or when there's a lot of ice on the streets, as there was through much of last winter.  But, realistically, I know that I won't cycle as much between, say, Thanksgiving and March or whenever the weather breaks.

Today I was satisfied, no, I was happy with the riding I did this year.  Perhaps I could have ridden even more, but I don't wish that I did.  I also don't wish that I had the strength and stamina I did when I was younger.  Well, all right, I'd like to have those things, but I know I don't need them to keep on riding, to continue my journey.

From Health Unlocked

As I rode today, I was thinking about a particular ride I took many, many years ago.  I had taken the day off from working as a messenger, hopped onto my Peugeot PX-10E and pedaled across the bridge, up and down ridges, and back up some old mining roads in the Watchung Mountains. The cloud cover was not a shawl that kept the ridges and cliffs warm and forgetful; rather, it seemed to keep the chill and ashen tones of the coming winter all around, and within, me.  

I had, in not much more than a year, experienced the deaths of two of my closest (emotionally and spiritually) relatives and the suicide of a friend.  There was nothing to do but pedal up that steep mining road; it could have been the last thing I did; I wanted it to be; there would be no wishes, no regrets left.

But no matter how hard I pedaled or how fast I ascended that hill, the young man I was could not have met up with the woman I am now.  If he could have, I would have told him that he would be OK, he is riding, he is on his journey, it was all that mattered.  

In short, I could not have understood what it would be like to have taken the ride I have taken to where I am now. 

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