Freedom At 2am

Thinking about going outside, in the dark, alone, is intimidating. Flashing lights, blinking red reflectors, unseeable terrain ahead I take a deep breath and strap on my helmet.

I’ve rode bikes on wooded trail with a headlamp strapped to the top of my head, racing against the clock and pushing my teammates up the next switch back or following them down the final hill to the end of a race, or the end of that stage in the race. These moments were hard mentally and physically but I never once hesitated. I just did it.

Now, here in Chicago, I tend to linger at the bar after work a little bit longer. I have to psych myself up to re-attach my front wheel, unlock my U-lock that keeps the frame safe from crooks and I have to take a deep breath when I put the blinking lights on my handlebars and as I climb into the saddle I’m truly a bit afraid. It’s dark, kinda cold, the air is now damp and there’s a slight breeze that never seems to cease from Lake Michigan–I both love and hate that cool push of air.

But once I’m in the seat, once I begin peddling I forget that fear. There are fewer cars, the adrenaline doesn’t need to flow as hard as it does during the day; freedom is ahead and I’m rolling towards it self propelled and on two wheels. A ride home at 2am is a ride through a city that not everyone gets to see. It’s a quiet and calm city that during the day is rushed and stressed but at 2am she’s serene and relaxed. At 2am she bears her soul to those that will listen.

Freedom awaits at a 2am ride, however every time I have to saddle up and go I’m scared. It takes me a while to convince myself to go, but I always do and I never regret the silent moments we have.

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you may remember when I partnered with my friend Mike to do a series of Adventure Races in the summer of 2011 after I quit my soul sucking corporate job. He gave me the opportunity to experience these amazing races first hand. It was an adventure, to say the least. I’ve since been bouncing—I never really stop moving around, as you all know.

            Well. Now many of my friends and family are wondering WHY I’ve landed in the middle of nowhere Maryland. Mike is putting a on a race of his own and has asked for my help in coordinating, marking, creating, marketing and building this thing (so click HERE and like our page on facebook) I love this end of races. In Oregon I worked on Granite-Man but an AR is a whole new beast to tackle, especially because this is our first year.

In the mean time, while not planning check points, getting sponsors and talking up the race to the community I will be waiting tables at the Black Bear Tavern (a post on my first day, coming soon) riding bikes, paddling in the lake and training for my own races all while exploring this beautifully untouched part of Maryland. Don’t let The Wire fool you, there is more to this state than drug deals and murder.

 

It’s time to be busy, be happy, enjoy my surroundings and experience everything.

 

Morning bike ride

Morning bike ride

Work shirt. The customers are...colorful

Work shirt. The customers are…colorful

 

Break ’em. Ride ’em!

Being on a road bike is a long road. The road in front of you seems to go on and on and on. That is, until you see a stop sign in the distance, that red hexagon that tells you to stop, slow down, unclip and wait for the oncoming traffic. As a cyclist we have to obey the rules of the road, yet a 35 mile bike ride does more for your body and mind than sitting in a car for 30 minutes does.

 

I recently hooked up with my old TNR (Tuesday Night Ride) group at Velo City Cycles in Holland, Michigan. I saw heaps of familiar faces, got a hug from MC, the shop owner, and biked with an old friend (whom I met by bonding over our love for our Bianchis.) As the miles passed by I chatted with different guys on the ride, rolling over the hills, noticing the different landscape we have here in Michigan versus Maryland. Flat versus hilly, farm land versus the Chesapeake Bay I’ve become so familiar with.

If love could come in a bike...

 

Half way through the ride I began to feel the five miles I ran earlier that morning. My quadriceps were ‘feeling the burn’ that Coach Troy would be proud of. My outer quads worked hard while I ran.  Now the inner quads were working (and screaming!) But the feeling of working, of hurting, of knowing I was going to be sore was tremendous and great. This ride was about the ride not the destination (I know! Cliché, but it’s soooooo true!) I enjoyed the conversation, I enjoyed the scenery, I didn’t enjoy the farm smells so much, but the silos towering over the fields were beautiful in a Pure Michigan way.

 

Obeying the rules sucks. But to be respected on the road cyclist must obey the rules. However, just by being on a bike and competing with the cars we’re breaking some sort of unwritten rule. We’re riding on the road on two wheels, powering our bodies on this machine with nothing but a helmet (brain bucket) for protection. Our spandex shorts most definitely aren’t the most stylish of clothing and some of us wear jerseys, I’m too poor to invest and just wear a running top… so in a sense, as we’re following the rules of the road we’re also breaking them down. We’re unconventional. I feel we’re sticking it to the man by not buying gas, by using our bodies and machines as efficiently as possible we’re somehow better than those people driving and riding shotty. It may take us a little longer to get somewhere but we’re enjoying the ride not just looking and waiting for the destination.

 

And what’s the destination anyway?