02 June 2020

A Decade On A Mid-Life Ride

Ten years ago today, I wrote my first post on this blog.

Back then, I was less than a year removed from my gender-affirmation surgery.  I had just returned to cycling a couple of months earlier; if you look at the photos in some of my early posts, you'll see that I gained weight during those months off my bike. After a summer and fall of riding, I'd lost most of the weight, though I don't (and probably will never again have) the surfboard-shaped body of my racing and long-tour days.  

What is the point of that story?  Well, a point might be that, as the Tao Te Ching teaches, life is change.  That is what makes life a journey:  If we always know what's next, we are just passing through the same moment over and over again.  

Like most people, I learned to ride a bike when I was a toddler.  Unlike most Americans of my generation (or the previous couple of generations), I didn't stop when I was old enough to drive.  Cycling has been one of the few constants in my life:  I have continued to pedal beyond jobs (careers, even) I no longer work or even think much about, through places and people I've moved away from whether by choice or circumstance and, literally, from one life to another.

Of course, there are people and other living beings I miss:  my mother (who passed a few months ago), my friends Janine and Michelle and my cuddle-buddies Charlie and Max. (Yay cats!) Now I have Marlee and friends I didn't have in my youth, as well as a few who've been with me through my journey.  Marlee doesn't replace Max or Charlie any more than current friends take the place of Janine or Michelle.  But they hold places in my life that I discovered as I've continued on my journey.

Likewise, the ways I ride today aren't  substitutes or consolations for the way I pedaled when I was younger.  The journey changed me; I changed with the journey.  And it changed, just as the sights around you change as you ride from a city to the country, from a village to farmland, from the seaside to a forest or mountains to flatlands.

And, well, the world is different from the world of a decade ago.  This day began with my hometown, New York, under curfew for the first time since the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011. The latest curfew began at 11 pm last night; tonight it will re-commence at 8 pm.  Those restrictions come as schools and businesses deemed "non-essential" have been closed for nearly two months and social distancing has been mandated.

Who could have foreseen any of those things--or, for that matter, our political situation? If life is a journey and a journey is, by definition, a procession of change, we can at least hope that the curfews, the pandemic and the current administration won't last.  And, as long as I continue to ride, I am on the journey.  As long as I don't know where it ends, I am in the middle of it.  So, even at my age, I am a mid-life cylist.

1 comment:

  1. Love that final image. A beautiful world we could and should all enjoy by supporting each other through life's changes.

    Hopefully the MAHA, make America hate again, lunatics and the chaos they perpetuate fade away and let the cycle of life resume.