Not one to let the end of summer pass by while we sip iced tea and laze on our balcony, Felkerino has been unstoppably enthusiastic about weekend rides in the country.
His love affair with summer is certainly infectious, and I’ve been happily coming along for the ride. (See what I did there?) Bicycling in the countryside is a nice change from riding home as the sun sets over Rosslyn every night.
Long weekend late-summer rides on quiet roads beyond the Beltway free me to pedal and ponder life as we ride around and through the lush pillowy green mountains.
Soybean leaves turn golden yellow, and the corn grows so tall that we nose the bike out that extra few inches at intersections to assure ourselves the coast is clear. Subtle signs convey that these delicious days weren’t meant to last.
Usually when we’ve made such commitments to active weekends and bike overnights it has been in the interest of some upcoming event, be it the brevets or a summer tour. For the next few months, though, we have no bikey plans on the horizon except a paid century or two.
We talk about why we’re hitting the riding so hard, but we keep coming up with nothing. We have no fitness or training reasons for it, but even so, whenever a span of free time opens up we yearn to fill it with bike riding.
When I was young, I developed a transactional relationship with physical activity. If I work out, then I’ll lose weight, look better, improve fitness, live longer. Even as an adult, much of my cycling and running have been founded in this “if-then” exchange, and what comes after the activity itself.
You see this if-then reflected in gadgets and apps that translate the calories burned through activity into numbers of donuts, gym membership marketing campaigns that sell the promise of a summer beach body in exchange for your workouts, and fitness studies that bombard us with the importance of exercise for long-term health.
This weekend as we rode, my mind drifted into big thoughts territory, and I realized that recent events have disabused me of many of the if-then truths I fed myself for decades about physical activity, and I’ve been reshaping why working out, running, and cycling matter.
Felkerino and I pedaled and gnashed our gears through the persistent steeps of West Virginia, this past weekend, and I loved it. We sweat through our clothes as the humid Mid-Atlantic summer breathed down our necks, and I loved it. I soaked in the views from ridge tops, content that our exertion had propelled us there, and I loved it.
Human-powered play and exploration are essential fuel for my spirit. Will I live longer by exercising? I don’t know– maybe that doesn’t matter so much. I can live fully in the now, moving quietly over the world’s surface with my enthusiastic riding partner for however many years our bodies allow, purely for the love of it.