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Riding and Spirit

Posted by on September 24, 2013

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two months since I came back from Paris. It feels so long ago, and I feel like I’m a completely different person than I was when I started off for France on the 12th of July.

The Me that left for France isn’t all that different from the Me of now. I’m still the same guy deep down, but with regards to cycling, that Me is completely different. A more confident Me pedals the bike now.

Where I’d ride up a hill with trepidation, I now almost attack every hill. Strava has me moving up leaderboards on a lot of the hills in the area. On the longer climbs, I hang in pretty well. I’m not a out and out mountain climber cyclist; I think I weigh too much for that, but for the short steep little climbs in my area, I climb better than most.

But what I find most about this new cycling Me is that cycling now isn’t about the weight loss, or training, or milestones, it’s now about something beyond that. I find I need a long ride out on the back country roads every so often to refresh my soul. To find some rolling hills or free open plains, or something new that I haven’t seen before. Sure, I enjoy the training rides, and riding with my family, but there’s just some bucket that fills when I go ride the 80 mile ride out to the middle of nowhere, or the 20 mile ride to places unknown. Riding under tree-canopied roads, up hills with interesting views, or to climb mountains and to have my spirit renewed with the wonders of God’s creation, the ride is the destination, the destination is the excuse for the ride.

For example, there’s a bit of a climb around here called Mount Weather. I rode up it once on my Hybrid. My friend Steve said I was crazy to do so, but I did. Now I want to go back and ride my road bike up the Mount. So one Saturday I took off early in the morning with the goal of doing just that.

Along the way I met a new friend who rides and lives in the neighborhood, stopped and took pictures at a classic car show in Herndon, and actually did climb up one of the classic climbs in Leesburg, with a roll out to Purcelleville. I never made it to Mount Weather, but I did a ride, one that got me back in tune.

This past week I spent time at my company’s HQ in Ottawa, and rode around some of the trails and roads there. I rode up into Gatineu Park, with almost 1km of climbing, and was rewarded with some awesome views. I did some muscle ripping time-trial like runs along the Ottawa river. But the most fulfilling ride was the loop I rode through the Experimental Farm area, back around to the Ottawa River, and then up near the Rideau Locks.

I guess what I’m getting around to is admitting that I need to ride a bike. Not in a health way, but in a life way. In that I find myself happier and clearer thinking after I’ve done a long bike ride sometime in the week. I think it comes from something at the base of my human existance, in that I always refilled whatever that internal cup one has by driving out in the mountains. When I was over-stressed, or upset, or pissed off, I always found that a drive out in the mountains cleared my head and made it easier for me to think and understand and get through whatever was going on. I won’t say that I’ve completely removed myself from that type of spirit fulfilment, but I can achieve the same happiness and clarity by riding a bike.

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