Wednesday, March 7, 2007

My Pink Bike in March

I got on my bike today for the first time since November. I felt like I was saying hello to a good friend who had been away for awhile. I felt like my world was waking up after a long hibernation, like my thoughts had been fuzzy and cloudy but were now emerging from a bewildering haze.

I started biking last summer. My husband bought me a pink mountain bike, just my size. I was as happy as I'd been when I'd gotten a three-speed Schwinn when I was 8 years old. The only place I ever rode back then was to friends' houses or to the drug store to buy candy. I wasn't much of rider, in other words. I rode purely for pleasure, like most kids.

When Darren bought the bike, he was skeptical. He thought it would be like other things he'd bought me in the past that initually I'd been excited about but then would forget. I surprised him a month later when I was still riding. Two months later I was still riding. I even kept riding after I took two bad wipe outs while trying to make a fast turn. I don't think I've ever had such a huge bruise on my leg.

I rode all the way into November when I started getting headaches from the cold. It was time to retire the bike for the winter. Frankly, I surprised myself, that I stuck with a form of exercicse for longer than two weeks. And that I actually ENJOYED that form of exercise.

So I'd pass my pink bike in the garage whenever I got into the car, which was about 178 times a day. Spring seemed years away.

All winter long I had to do (or not do) other kinds of exercise. There were those six weeks between mid-November and January 1 when I didn't do a thing but holiday stuff. Then in January I started doing exercise videos and walking/jogging (if you can really call it jogging) at an indoor track. Honestly I have no idea how people can stand jogging. The only way I can stand it is if I have on two sports bras, music in my ears, and I can stop after every lap and walk one lap. The big accomplishment of the month was when I could actually jog again without feeling that I would pass out. I was prepared for my body to never forgive me for neglecting exercise.

I'm not really the athlete type. I'm five feet two and a hundred and blank blank pounds. But last summer when I biked up the canyon, suddenly I saw myself becoming super-fit, super-lean and super-strong. I could ride up the canyon and back, about eleven miles, and to me, that was the Tour de France!

So today, after two months of listening to Mari Winsor talk about feeling the love and energy after my workout, and after two months of breathing stale sweaty air at the indoor track, I was free!! It was 50 degrees and there was no stopping me.

There was still snow on the side of the trail. I wasn't the only one out enjoying the nice weather. Even the serious joggers had grins on their faces, don't ask me how. It definitely wasn't as scenic as it is in the summer or fall--the colors were drab and dull compared to the fall splendor I remembered. Oranges, yellows and rusts were now brown, gray and more brown. Even the green of the pine trees seemed faded somehow.

On the way up, I was breathing great gulps of fresh air that smelled like new soil overturned in my father's garden. New ideas were stirring that had no outlet over the winter. It was finally spring, and all its cliche words began popping into my head as I pedaled: rebirth, renew, growth, survivial, change, strength, awakening.

You know how all winter long you wear long sleeves, long pants and closed shoes? Then one day it's warm enough and you put on a T-shirt, shorts and sandals, and your skin kind of tingles, not knowing how to react to the open air? That's how it was for me today.

When I came down the canyon, I rode as hard as I could. When I thought what could happen if I crashed at that speed, I slowed down a little, but then sped up again. What a rush it was!!!

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