Friday, August 2, 2013

The Nature of Things

Sometimes people ask me why I ride, or why I run or hike. The short answer is I am not sure. Something inside me wants me to be moving outside. I get antsy if I go for more than several days without some sort of physical activity outside of the usual work stuff.

The long answer is... I like being outside. A while ago I told my sons that I think I am part druid. I need to be around trees. But it's not just trees. I think I am a reincarnate of a nomadic tribesman. Being indoors is all well and good and I don't argue with the virtues of a roof over the head or electricity for my coffee maker. Just like being outdoors.
Heading up the hill near Clarion, PA
Yesterday when I was riding the mountain bike trails at Royalview mountain bike trails (Strongsville, OH) there's a section that goes through a grove of pine trees. I love going through that bit. The smell is almost like perfume to me. (Don't say I'm a weirdo now, you knew that much long ago). I can tell when lilacs and honeysuckle are in bloom as well.

Not to mention temperature differences. When I was riding the Decker Creek Trail out of Morgantown, WV it was a pretty warm day. However, a good section of that trail is under a tree canopy, making it an easy 6-10 degrees F cooler. Not to mention there's a section about half mile or so that is even cooler. It is situated just right in this valley for the winds to blow through. Not strong but certainly much cooler. You notice it on the bike but walking I think you'd move too slow to really notice the drop and rise. In a car it wouldn't be noticed at all.

Very close to the road, but you'd never see it unless you followed a tiny little dirt path off of the road.

Animals are more easily spotted as well. Sometimes that's good. Other times you have a dog chase you which is not always bad as most times the dogs are like me. They just want to play. But once in a while it gets dicey. Mean dogs will come after you and I don't need a dog trying to take off the very leg I need to get  home. Most of the time small rodents don't bother but sometimes they feel the need to run out if front of you. Sometimes disconcerting. A squirrel through the front wheel will bring everyone to a screeching halt. I do that enough on my own.
                                                                                                                                                     
Being on a bike I get to see things you wouldn't normally see from a car or would just be a blip. It's like exploring.
While it looks like mud, it's deposits/buildup from iron in the water. Found along the Greater Allegheny Passage.

But aside from the physical world riding my bike, or sometimes running, is my meditation. Zen time. A good friend of mine says he likes to sometimes just ride until his head is empty. I feel the same way. It's a good way to clear the mind. I'm not trying to convert you... well OK, perhaps I am.

Yes, after a long or difficult ride I am tired and sometimes sore. But my mental well being is usually much better. Even if I've gotten caught in the rain or one of those silly races I do where it's very cold and very muddy. And while if you tally up how much I've spent on bikes, parts, tires, etc. it's not cheap, it still seems to be cheap therapy to me.

Thanks for reading. On with the show.

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