I had my bike repainted last year, and even started riding it. Then I got busy with other things (or maybe I just got lazy). The bike spent most of the last 12 months hanging in the garage overlooking the bandsaw. I’d take it out every couple of months just to assuage my own guilt, but then it’d go back on the rack and I wouldn’t think much about it for a while.
I’ve been saying for the last month that I’m going to get back on the bike, but I’ve been putting it off. This morning I got frustrated with the program I was working on, and decided to take a ride and clear my head. An hour on the bike usually does.
Every time I come back to cycling after a long absence, I unable to understand how I could possibly have stopped. That first few miles feels so good: back out on the road, enjoying the fresh air and the wind in my face, nothing heavy on my mind. It’s very liberating.
It hurts, of course. My legs aren’t used to climbing even the smallest hills. But I know that within a couple of weeks the pain will be gone and I’ll feel a lot better. I just can’t understand how I could have stopped riding again.
I took an experimental loop through a new subdivision and was on my way home when I saw a large group of riders–perhaps as many as 50–coming up on the other side of the road. There were two motorcycles in front, obviously part of the ride, and three vans following. One of the vans said, “Ride 2 Recovery” on it, and “Wounded Veterans Ahead.”
I had to go see what that was all about.
I turned around, sprinted past the vans, and caught up with the riders. I struck up a conversation with one of the riders, a former Army Ranger from Albuquerque, NM. They’re participating in the Texas Challenge: a 6-day ride from San Antonio to Arlington. The riders raise money to help support the programs that Ride 2 Recovery sponsors. I talked to this guy for a few more minutes, then rode up the line offering encouragement before turning around and heading home.
Had I been in better shape, I probably would have stayed with them all the way to Fort Hood, and then found a ride back somehow. But I figured that 50 miles was probably a bit too far for my first ride after over a year of not riding seriously.
“The Ride 2 Recovery,” the web site says, “is produced by the Fitness Challenge Foundation, (501C3) in partnership with the Military and VA Volunteer Service Office, to benefit Mental and Physical Rehabilitation Programs for our country’s wounded veterans that feature cycling as the core activity.”
Call it fate, coincidence, serendipity, whatever. The likelihood of me running into a group of riders on a Wednesday morning, out on the back roads on my first ride of the season is pretty low. But then, improbable events happen quite frequently. After all, people do win the lottery. Whatever the reason, or even if there was no reason, I sure am glad I encountered this group today. That’s some serious motivation.