This week I celebrated my birthday by riding what has become an annual “Ride My Age Birthday Ride,” where I ride my age in miles. In order to not feel rushed (because every year this ride takes just a little longer) I took the day off and headed out of the city via the C&O Canal Towpath.
The towpath is a popular place to walk, hike, and bike on weekends. I looked forward to hitting it midday, midweek so as to avoid the crowds.
Given that my birthday falls in March, I never know what kind of weather to expect. This year, it was sunny and in the 50s. What a great birthday gift, no?
It was also breezy (west winds of 18 mph), but like I say, that’s March for you. The windy day was another reason I chose to travel the C&O, as its location and the surrounding trees offer decent shelter in many spots.
Even in a pre-spring state, the towpath is beautiful. The occasional runner passed, and even more occasional cyclist. People walked along the C&O with their dogs. I only had to hit the brakes for one dog out of the many that were out so I consider that a successful C&O outing.
I paused frequently during my ride to take photos and bask in the sunny day. I had nowhere I had to be, and no need to to hurry.
It was one of those days that was just warm enough that, if I chose to linger somewhere, I did not feel an initial chill when I resumed pedaling again.
At various times, I had the C&O all to myself, at least in terms of humans. It was me and the geese, the ducks, and the herons.
I rode along and thought about the decade I’d left behind. It’s when I started bike commuting, randonneuring, and riding as my primary form of transportation.
I also met Felkerino, who fostered my interest in bikes, and has been part of many of my bicycling adventures.
I reflected on where my bike has taken me: the Cascades in Washington state; from Rockville, Maryland, to Niagara Falls; France; Colorado; Pennsylvania; my beautiful home state of Iowa; and all the areas in and around Washington, D.C.
Sometimes these seem like dreams, or as if they happened to someone else. On yesterday’s ride, though, I vividly recalled them all. Yes, I have seen all these places on my bicycle, I said to myself. I remember.
I remember warm sun on my face applying and reapplying sunscreen wearing Gore-Tex in the cold rain, fighting the wind, sailing down a mountain, the fatigue in my legs, and the exhilaration of exploring. I was enveloped in gratitude for all that I’ve experienced on the bike.
For a moment, I found myself asking “What if I had started bicycling sooner?” I left the unproductive “What if” conversation alone, and instead chose to reflect on all the good that has been and anticipate the brilliant possibilities of tomorrow.
I kept pedaling, savoring my simple life, good health, and the clear beauty of the first day of Spring. Just me and my bike on the Ride My Age Birthday Ride.
Categories: Whatevering Rides