I knew when we left California that I’d miss having my own work space, my own kitchen. I’d miss the sunshine, and my friends, and our community in the Bay. But, regardless we couldn’t miss out on this next adventure so we packed up the things needed for the upcoming months and left. I adequately anticipated how thrilling, and freeing and exciting choosing to shift what our lives looked like would be. But, I obtusely underestimated just how much I’d miss my bike through it all.
In fact, my little heart just breaks to think how much I long for the simple metaphor and reality of letting the world spin beneath my wheels, for nothing lately has felt simple.
After traveling a bit, stepping away and re-examining what we want out of where we live, we thought the choice for where to move next would be an easy one. Back to the Bay? To Boulder? Or right here to Portland where we’ve been *squatting* comfortably. I think we almost believed that the answer would come to us in a dream and we’d wake up one morning fresh and bushy tailed, ready to chart our course.
This has not happened.
Quite the opposite; the more time that passes, the more overwhelmed we are in realizing the opportunity to choose where we go next is entirely ours, and the more weight we place on the decision. What do we want our lifestyle/work-style to look like? Our home life? Our friends? And the childhood of our not-quite-twinkle-in-eye-children to be like??!?!
Alarms going off in brain! Brain nearly bursting!
Oh, I am sure that if I could just spin for a day on my bike that all of this would work itself out! I’d hop on and push up and and over things that cloud my head by physically climbing forever through the clouds to reach a new vista, legs searing, heart beating out of chest, then I’d descend feeling new and light. I’d ride – proverbially and actually – through uncharted territory and claim it, command it, become part of it and strong enough then to navigate it. Right now, and in my life, the thought of moving a simple machine over inexplicably beautiful terrain, territory uncharted, under my own strength, is so powerful and magnetic , all I can think about as I ponder where to land next is “in a place where I can ride my bike.”
Thankfully, and admittedly, I’m not completely without a ride; I brought my 29er with me – because there were lots of mountains on our journey, there was lots of mud and rain on the horizon (and road bikes like that less) and because I have a live-in riding partner when we play in the mud. For the most part, this has been a swell plan — because I’ve fallen completely for mud, bikes, mountains, obstacles and the challenge of off-road riding. But I still have to drive my bike out of the city, navigate traffic, and and and…sometimes (sometimes) the simplicity of going for a spin gets lost in the logistics.
So, when I can, I make the drive. When I can’t, I crush myself on the trainer. And when all of that seems too unromantic, I pout about it and throw myself a pitty party;
Pouting, and starving for bikes -any bikes – this past weekend, I took my camera to CrossCrusade here in Portland to take my mind off it all; to photograph beautiful machines, to sponge up the camaraderie, and to just enjoy being around bikes.
I spent the day filling my ears filled with cowbell, covering my boots in mud. I had a beer, bumped elbows and soothed my longing soul. The men, women + children that swarmed the track were folks of all abilities, from all walks of life, but they all had the same goal; to bridge the gap between indian summer and proper winter on a bicycle, smiling, not taking themselves too seriously and absolutely enjoying crushing themselves to the Nth degree.
This was the medicine I needed: this sweet-ass and amazing community welcomed me in and reminded me I was (even as a spectator ) one of them. As such, my bike didn’t feel so far away at all and I was reminded me of a few important things:
While I was a (cough cough) “triathlete” when we moved to California, I was a CYCLIST by the time we left. I love the sport, the community around it, the metaphors and practicalities of it. I’m so lucky to have found it in my realm.
I know that wherever we land, cycling and cyclists will catch me like a hammock.
There are lots of different ways to “be on my bike;” CX might be a new way. (Literally. I’m shopping for a bike – suggestions?) And connecting to this part of my life -in other, less obvious ways, might help me ride more comfortably into the challenges on the horizon, keeping the light in sight.
So, some days I’ll keep driving out to the Gorge and spin the 29er in the dirt beneath the pines. I’ll freeze my fingers, get my blood pumping, my legs searing, feel that lovely machine become an extension of my body. And, when I just can’t, I’ll find other ways to connect to my bike and let my thoughts spin. And soon enough, I know we’ll be together again.