It’s been about a month, and I’ve only run six times that I can recall. During the winter, I was thrilled to be running, but injuries have forced me to switch to plan B — biking. Unlike running, biking takes some presence of mind, so losing oneself to a meditative-like trance isn’t wise or safe. However, my route here in Three Oaks takes me on winding, often shaded, rolling hills and the quiet beauty of the ride, punctuated only by cicadas, bird songs and the occasional passing pick up, affords some moments of contemplation (between pants as I grind my way up some of the longer hills).
Biking does not come as naturally to me as running, and I am sometimes nervous about falling (I’ve fallen a few times with clipless pedals and now have toe clips, and have even managed to fall with those). I usually take my phone, just in case. What if I crash? What if I get a flat tire? What if that deer I’ve seen bounding through the hills leaps into the road? What if that pick up doesn’t see me coming around the curve? The possibilities seem endless. So I wear a helmet, take it easy on the down hills, slow down at stop signs, and generally enjoy the ride.
There is no getting away from it, though. When you are running, it’s just you and the road. Biking adds another dimension — a mechanical device that may or may not cooperate, occasionally at speeds of 25 mph. The bike prevents the kind of mind-body connection that happens in running. Perhaps serious bikers can become one with the machine, but my machine, as much as I enjoy it, is still simply a machine, and one that I don’t trust as much as I trust my own two feet.
For all of my worries about biking on the roads, I have to admit that when I crest the top of Spring Creek Road, after a gradual climb, I slow down even more, inhale deeply the smell of green, and listen carefully to the not-so-quiet peacefulness of the humming insects and bird songs. The return trip descent of Spring Creek means I am almost home, pounding away at top speed for a few moments. Instead of quiet, the whirring of my wheels and the wind in my ears keeps my senses poised.
I know there are serious bikers on these roads, bikers who put in many, many more miles than I have time for, but I think I enjoy the ride as much as they do. Now if I can only find a way to become one with my bike!