Hey, Just Ride 37

From the moment my feet left Mother Earth to hop onto a bike for the first ride, that sensation of launching into adventure became etched into my essence forever.

The enchanting allure of climbing onto my bike gets magnified by the beauty of my creative right-side brain that manifests itself in so many entertaining manners that reading novels, watching movies and even playing video games can seldom measure up.

That’s where creativity lives, searching to transcend mundane to supernatural. It’s what makes us all unique.

Dave Grohl points out “That’s one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.”

I’m not a Nirvana geek, but Kurt Cobain captured me in All Apologies with the simple lyric, “I wish I was like you, easily amused.”

I’m so, so easily amused. There are equally millions of reasons why we ride bikes. I ride to see where my imagination will take me today.

At first I thought I’d preface this by writing that I’m sure we’ve all had a ride like this, but, really, I’m embarrassed to say I was well into my second decade on this planet before I realized that not everyone thinks exactly the way I do.

So I’ll probably sound like a lunatic to you lefty-brainers.

That said, there are times on my bike when I believe my legs have a mind of their own. The first instance of such bizarre behavior came years ago in SoCal, as I rode home from San Clemente, finishing up a 60-mile ride.

My mind wandered, discussing what culinary options lay ahead of me as soon as I got through Camp Pendleton. My water bottle ran low with my sweat rate incredibly high. My breathing became labored.

I downshifted, ready to just coast in the last 10 miles. I assumed my brain spread word of that decision, that it didn’t matter how long it took, as long as we got home in one piece, we’d be happy.

With that in mind, I continued to rifle through my post-ride pig-out options.

Then something felt strange. Here I was with my brain in Lounge Mode, but something felt out of sync.

I looked down and watched, unattached it seemed, while my legs churned wildly, each stroke aggressively pumping us forward like the old Exxon Tiger in the Tank commercials.

Now, to sit on your bicycle looking down at your legs thinking, “WOW, look at them go. That’s impressive!” is something that can make you start talking to yourself because you know you have an involvement here, a personal investment, if you will, but somewhere it’s lost on you because you know five minutes ago you declared the ride to be downgraded from a workout to a Sunday ride.

Just about then you start thinking about mutiny, that being captain of the ship means you get to wear the neatest hat and nothing more. If someone wants to steal your hat, well, you’re screwed. If they decide to eat your strawberries, then you have to put your foot down and let them know who’s boss.

An order is an order, and to disobey a direct order or, even more humiliating, to have it simply ignored, must say something about your ability to lead.

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To be a good leader, you have to recognize when you’re wrong. You have to think about what is best for the entire crew, and at that moment, I surrendered.

If the crew wants to keep cranking, who am I to stop them? So suddenly my whole body regained its sync. My legs convinced me there was a lot more spirit and enthusiasm for the final miles.

Once again at peace, my mind again began to wander. Just look at them go, I thought, those legs are ready for anything. I’ll bet they’ll go all night if I’d let them.

But there were other opinions to be heard, the most significant coming from the boiler room where the engineer was obviously some distant relative of Chief Engineer Mr. Scott. Down around the stomach he was yelling — SCREAMING — demanding to be heard.

“We’re running on safety pins and vapor. We’re gonna blow any second unless we back off, Captain, I just can’t be responsible for blowing us to Kingdom Come.”

Relax, Scotty, there’s a little market just outside of the gate of Camp Pendleton, which we were now leaving. A couple of Twinkies, a shot of Gatorade, some pretzels, and we’ll coast home in high gear.

That’s when it got scary. Suffice to say it isn’t easy to keep a secret on a big ship like the Enterprise, and word got to the legs about this possible stop to refuel, and frankly, they would have none of it.

If someone had been riding with me, I’m sure they would have heard a cocky voice from the knees bellow out, “Hey, blow THIS!”

It was loud enough to overshadow the piercing pain that accompanied a spirited attack on the small hill just before Oceanside Harbor. Sure it hurt, but I never remember going up that hill like this, especially after 3.5 hours of riding.

I wished there was a busload of onlookers passing by, or at least someone to get a glimpse of this God-like show, but there wasn’t. The ensuing downhill rush through the Harbor felt like a roller-coaster ride.

All I could think about was a ride along this stretch a year earlier, when the summer beach traffic jam had cars inching along just a bit faster that I was riding. Suddenly, I felt someone pinch my lycra-clad ass!

Before I could really react, a bright red pickup truck with three young beautiful women in it pulled along side, smiling and laughing. The girl hanging halfway out the passenger window smiled seductively as they slowed to my pace.

“Excuse me,” she said, “Are those Bugle Boy jeans you’re wearing?” They laughed and cruised on.

I was riding on a high like that again.

Just about the time we were cruising past the pier there was a commotion that needed to be addressed. Just who in the hell do you think you are? someone screamed down toward my legs. You realize there isn’t any place to stop for food between the pier and home, unless we go out of the way and make the ride longer. You did that on purpose.

The response was predictable. Big deal, we’ll ride back to San Clemente if you want to get something to eat there. We’ll ride anywhere. We ain’t tired and we ain’t done yet.

Having experienced cycling BONK before, I knew the clock was ticking down to a big BONK. BONK is when you’ve used up nearly every ounce of renewable fuel in your body, your muscles having stole the supply right out from under your brain’s nose, so to speak, and now the brain is trying to continue at half power, which means it can only sustain a thought for a moment or two before flicking over to the next thought, like a couch potato with a TV remote in his grasp.

Your muscles, brain aside, continue to find fuel. If that means burning fat, muscle, anything, they’ll do it. They’ll start breaking up the living room furniture if it’ll burn.

Meanwhile, the only emotions that can operate at half power are frustration, anger, despair, and, unfortunately, fascination, so the arguing on the brain level is, at best, disjointed. My Gemini twins firing on all cylinders.

It can be distracted by something as simple as a look down at your legs, wondering why in the heck they haven’t backed off yet. Why are they still hammering? Isn’t anyone going to take control here?

Well, the best part is that before you know it, you’re rolling into your garage and your legs are laughing “What a bunch of weenies we have to live with!”

And the brain can only come back with, “Oh yeah …”

Time to ride.

Join the conversation
  1. trabri says

    Once every 2-3 years I get inspired to participate in a 10k foot race. At some point during the event the feeling in my legs becomes disconnected with the rest of my body. It’s wonderful, I’m floating, bliss! Then the finish line passes……..ouch.

    1. John Rezell says

      Sadly there’s almost always an ouch

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