Every trip from home is now a non-stop ride. Out the door, on the road, back again. No stops for breakfast or coffee. All the chairs at my usual haunts are taken up by the same thing that took all your chairs.
I have a friend who used to kid me about my love of breakfast rides. Her bicycle rides were like her road running: laser focused on training, on getting faster, stronger, on getting it done.
She quit running and started riding because of her knees. Pretty sure she eventually quit riding for the same reason.
Her rides were always non-stop.
Now, so are mine. I might stop now and then to take a picture, but that’s not stopping.
Stopping is reaching a destination, the place that defines the ride.
The ride to Ellen’s in Princeville, the Track Inn in Chillicothe, the Mayflower in Dunlap, One Eleven Coffee in Wyoming.
Stopping is becoming a pedestrian just long enough to find my chair. Saying hello to someone and hearing a greeting in return. Retreating to a newspaper because I always have–even though I have to bring the paper with me because I can’t pull one out of a box outside like I did in the eighties.
Hey, The Wall Street Journal. Take my quarters!
Rides with a destination are two rides in one. I have the ride to wherever I’m going–Roanoke, Normal, Delavan–and the ride back.
The first ride is always into the wind because I plan on working for my breakfast and taking it easy on the way back.
Unfortunately, the return trip might also include a headwind because the wind changes direction while I’m reading about a guy in California who reached an altitude of 15,000 feet sitting in a lawn chair tied to 45 helium balloons.
The headwind doesn’t matter if the story’s good enough.
And I do think about the flying man later, when I’m repairing my dad’s fleet of lawn chairs.
I pay more attention to the repairs because I’m not simply fiddling with aluminum and nylon webbing; I’m engaged in mission-critical maintenance of potential aircraft.
That’s responsibility. And I don’t take it lightly.
On the other hand, Dad’s lawn chairs remain the only lighter-than-air vehicles I’ve ever worked on.
But that particular repair experience stays with me. It’s a strange thing, thinking of Zeppelins every time I unfold a chaise.
Oh, the engineering.
But it’s stranger still to ride a bicycle with nowhere to stop.
In this 21st century version of musical chairs, no one sits down when the music ends, including me.
Though to be fair, when I’m riding a bike, I’m always sitting down. And the music is limited to whatever I’m humming. Usually Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’.
Oh, quit complaining. I’m the one who has to listen.
At least I can still ride. The roads in northern Peoria County are lightly traveled. Often, I’m the only thing on the road.
When asked at work, I sometimes say I’m good until I’m not good, a nervous nod to the current situation.
So far, I’m good. My knees are okay. I’m slower than I used to be, but my riding hasn’t been about speed in years.
Instead, riding is about doing the same thing I did 45 years ago.
It’s about enjoying the wind in my face and sometimes at my back. (Sometimes, just below my feet–I see you, scurrying gum wrapper.)
It’s about climbing Coach Road hill faster than last time and forgetting how fast last time was.
Without a breakfast stop or coffee, riding is about what it’s always about, what it’s always been about.
Turns out you were right, Sharon.