Bicycle Estrangement

I kicked off 2016 with cycling and running foremost in my mind. I participated in the area’s Freezing Saddles challenge – to ride as many days as possible from January through March – and signed on to ride the best flèche ever with our friend Jerry.

From the beginning of the year through April, I enthusiastically pursued daily riding and weekly mileage goals. At some point, though, other activities began occupying more of my head space and with them, my energy and focus on cycling.

My routine went out the window. The riding did not stop, but lessened in frequency and quantity. That evil cycle of getting down on myself for not meeting my recreational goals crept into my consciousness.

My running did not suffer quite as much, but recently the bike has been reduced to a vehicle to take me places  (mostly work and the grocery store) and carry my stuff (my laptop and groceries). It has stayed behind when I traveled for work.

The only bike I’m currently riding is my single-speed Rivendell Quickbeam (not a bad bike, I must say). My other steeds languish untouched, silently crying for miles outside. But I don’t have time to devote to them, I tell myself.

I’ve always appreciated the bike’s economy, but usually I’ve embraced my partnership with the bike in a more sensual and immersive way. It’s been years since I viewed cycling strictly as the best car-free way to go from Point A to Point B.

Quickbeam and me. C&O Canal

Breeze on my face, steady wheels propelled by the force of my own pedal strokes, the sure feel of my ride. My bike and I travel seamlessly together in our journeys through the city and wherever else we venture.

Lately, my head is stuffed with to-do lists and other non-cycling distractions, and my unity with the bike has become strained. Soundlessly we ride along, but I have forgotten to appreciate all the bike brings to my life: freedom, health, independence, and an overall increased sense of beauty about this life.

Perhaps it’s silly to feel this way, and yet unexpected tears well as I write. Our bikes may not be sentient, but we form intimate connections with them. My bike is my partner in exploration. A dear friend. I miss our bond, and my conscious awareness of our union. Soon bike, soon.

16 thoughts on “Bicycle Estrangement

  1. I feel your pain! I haven’t been out for a “real” ride in many months, mostly quick spins around the ‘hood or woods and one brief S24O. Work obligations have kept me off the bike during the week and the weekend have been filled with home keeping chores. But a vacation is right around the corner and the bike is coming with me for early morning rides before the family wakes.

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  2. You’ve struck such a strong chord in my heart as well. My new job prevents my daily riding as I once did. When I don’t ride as regularly, it seems to almost become a chore to go ride just for the joy of it. Too many distractions take the place of riding; distractions that really aren’t. The need to get things done around the house because I’m gone so much take precedence. I love my job, but I miss the freedom that self-employment afforded.

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    1. Well-written. You may be feeling the seasons in your body and moods. Often good to let go for awhile so that your body and mind can recuperate, adjust, and renew for the next “up” cycle. If we ride every day no matter what, or if we lament that we have not met our high-set goals, we can set up remorse, regret, guilt and other useless feelings.

      Enjoy your time away from the bike and when you return it will be that much grander!

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  3. I injured my shoulder a couple weeks ago and I’m looking at an extended period off of my bike. That’s one way to re-establish a longing to ride, but I don’t recommend it.

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  4. yes, yes, yes. i changed jobs 28 months ago. for 10 years i either worked at home or bike commuted. now i work too far, too dangerous to bike commute. and i’ve expanded my practice, gone back to school, husband changed jobs, etc etc. so from daily riding and long weekend jaunts, we’ve gone to … what? a long ride on the weekend, one or two club rides per week at night and staring at our beautiful collection of cannondales on the new bike rack jeff built. i talk to ole red and little bleu, apologizing for the neglect and telling them, mommy DOES love them, but mommy has to pay rent so they have a nice, safe place to live. and it will get better, new work schedule in a few weeks, some other life changes and we’ll all come through to the other side.
    i love your blogs.

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    1. There are so many areas of our life that require tending, and some of them receive more attention than others at any given time. Thanks for your comments, Robyn!

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  5. Sitting on a grassy hill at the Garrett County GF finish last Saturday, I chatted with buddy Mariette about why we ride. We were spent after 100 miles and 12kft, we were happy for the experience and the moment; it was so beautiful, maybe it was an endorphin high? The point is to let your inner child emerge and keep it fun. This article is inspirational to this end:. http://richmondmagazine.com/life-style/rolling-momentum/

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  6. I think there are always those seasons where things we love have to take a bit of a backseat to our lives, or where things we usually love just don’t exert the same pull. Be gentle with yourself. 🙂

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  7. I think these things are cyclical– like others have said, this may be a temporary lull.
    I’ve kind of shifted to a strictly commuting cyclist, partly due to time constraints and partly because I don’t feel like doing more. I still enjoy riding. What I do miss is the #bikedc camaraderie on a group ride, and that’s what I feel guilty about not doing much of anymore.

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