Failing can be Winning

Uncategorized

photo 1       photo 2

For my art class, I had to make a postcard from my current self to my future self.  I chose to write to myself in March of next year.  This is when I will begin racing again and when I will get my custom bike from Nickel City Cycles, my team.  I am naming this bike “Athena” and for my art project, I used a photocopy of an owl I have from Athena’s temple in Greece.  The funny thing is that when I wrote the date on the postcard I actually wrote March of last year, so without consciously being away of it, I was sending this postcard to my past self.  I realized I am already the future self I intended to be.

This blog is supposed to be about failing.  Well, that’s the thing.  It’s supposed to be about failing, but I’ve come to realize: it’s not about failing at all.  It’s about winning.  It’s about succeeding.  It’s about doing what I can do and pushing myself out of my moments of comfort.  It’s about being the person I want to be.  It’s about biking, but it’s about so much more than biking.

Since I have started this biking blog, I have lost over and over again.  I have never set foot on a podium.

But.

Since, I have won a fiction award, I have gotten into a fiction and poetry MFA program and I have gotten to write for a professional cyclist’s website.  This, to me, is not failing.

Since I have started this biking blog, I have been hit by a car but continued to bike.  I have joined Nickel City Cycles.  I have competed in road, criterium and circuit races.  Since starting this blog, I have gone mountain biking.  I have ridden at night in the dark.  I have climbed hills at cyclofemme.  I have biked from Amherst to Wilson, NY by myself.  This, to me, is not failing.

I am writing to you to tell you to risk something.  I’m writing to you to tell you to try something that you think you’re going to fail.   I’m writing to tell you that you will fail.  In so many ways, you will fail but there will come a time, when you will realize, you have gotten something so tremendously wonderful out of this experience and this will nearly make you want to cry and in this way, you will know, that there is very little you cannot do in this world.

I don’t know what I think of the blog as a form of art.  I think in some ways it is kind of strange, but in other ways, it is so perfect.  It is me writing to you and you writing to me.  In the course of this journey, people have actually started following this blog.  I have gotten all sorts of comments from people.  From a professional cyclist in France to a woman whose son has Autism to many people who seemed to be interested in motivation and hope.   I have also received numerous comments from my own community here in Buffalo, New York.  These comments are, quite honestly, what have kept me going.

My friend the other day told me, “You haven’t written for a post in a while.”  This seems to be the biggest motivation of all: someone is actually reading what I am writing.  They actually seem to want to read more of it.

My next step in the next few months will be to chronicle my winter training ups and downs.  There was a moment in this last month which I thought I might stop this project, but I have decided to keep going.  I need this in my life.  I need to document this experience.

As a writer, I mostly write alone and send out my work and then wait for the rejection letter.  This, it seems, is part of a creative lifestyle.  This blog to me has immediate response and encouragement.  It is completely different than all other writing in my life.

So, to anyone reading this now, thank you.   Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read these thoughts.  When I hear from you, I feel that the world is a little closer, a little more comfortable.  There is order.

Thank you for reading.  I am so excited to continue to write this journey.

I Must Dig Deeper

Uncategorized

“You cannot be a cyclist without going through incredible amounts of pain.”

–Jonathan “Jock” Boyer in the film Rising from Ashes103_0551

We were circling around and around and around. The six o’clock sun cast shadows on Larkin Square.

I saw her on the side of the road. There was blood. There was stillness. There were men giving me directions to keep going.

Three days after her crash, I ask, “What can I do for you?”

She replies, “You can help by riding your ass off for me every time you race.”

At this week’s crit practice, I am thinking about that statement and I’m also thinking about suffering. I’m thinking how I don’t push myself enough. I must dig deeper.

How can pain help me? How can suffering build me up? How do these negative things create positives?

Ironically, at crit practice, my injured teammate’s boyfriend is leading it. We are all working in a pace line. He is in front of me. We are working. We are working. We are going around a corner, tight, together, a flock of birds. We are close to one another’s wheel. A guy calls out “Closer!” when I start to drift. “Closer!” “Closer!”

And I am closer and I am closer and then I am not.

I am farther. I am dropped. I am a foot, two, three, I am done, behind.

The space widens and I yell to myself under my breath, “Put yourself in pain Lex. Put yourself in some fucking pain.”

My legs hurt though. They are seizing up like rusty mechanical things. I want to slice them from my body. Get off of me you hurt too much. Don’t you know I am a machine here. Don’t you know I am cogs in motion, moving, moving, moving. Parts working together. This isn’t scholarly. This isn’t reading. This is teeth grinding pain and I hate this. I hate this sport. I hate these ideas. I hate this not being the best. I am pure hatred.

And then the leader, my teammate’s boyfriend, drops and in his cool, matter of fact, like it is a completely normal thing to say, yells, “Look at my ass Alexis! Look at my ass!”

But my eyes keep drifting to his wheel and the space that is growing between my bike and his and his comment breaks my anger and I think how funny this is because I feel my team may have teased our teammate about her hot boyfriend and here I am choosing the dirt covered road instead of this guy’s arse. Excellent choice. Definitely choose broken nails over an athletic build. Right. Perfect sense.

But this is the case and I feel myself panicking and finally looking at his hips because I think that’s what he means. In Nickel City women world we say, “Look at my hips!” but here in industrial city riding with this gritty other team, it’s “Look at my ass!”

He keeps his wheel close to mine and I am pushing hard and I think of my teammate on the ground and how still she was and I think how scary that was for me while in the race and how it must have been four thousand times more scary for her. I must keep riding though. I must ride my heart out tonight here near these warehouses where the air smells like Cheerios and a lake laps up the shore. I must do this.

In reality, I want to stop the suffering. I want to jet off with the nearest civilized person and have a cup of Earl Grey and say, “Oh the daffodils are so lovely this time of year.  I love that feather on your hat.” but instead I’m here with a sweaty face and snot pouring from my nose and onto my gloves and salt is dripping off of my skin. I just want to keel over and stop. No more suffering. Thanks a billion but I’d rather read the dictionary.

I keep going though. I go through the end of practice. I do not throw up. I do not stop. I keep going.

And let it me known. Very clearly. Look me in the eye, “I am not giving up on this. Not giving up.”

And even tonight when I break down privately to a friend who understands bikes and life and I say how frustrating this whole sick sport is and how much I hate being worst and he replies, “Breathe, Miss. Breathe.”

And so I suffer while I’m out there on my bike but I also breathe. I take a deep breath in. I can do this. Remain calm. One breath at a time. It’s all going to be okay. 

Suffering while I’m out there.  Breathing the whole time.  One, two.  In, out.  And, I’m going to be just fine.

103_0563

 

La Belle Vie

Uncategorized

20140605_184858

I redefine loss. I redefine failure. I redefine losing, being last, being the worst. I redefine it as learning. I say in my head when I’m out at the Larkin Crits, “No. This is not me being terrible. This is me trying. This is me out here. This is me on a bike in a circle. This is pedals moving. This is my friends cheering. This is me smiling. This is me having a hell of a time out here in the sun and the cool breeze and Nickel City written across my chest.”

This is me winning against the self that said she wasn’t going to do crits. This is me triumphing over that person who would have cheered from the side lines in a pretty dress with a beer and a cute hat and clapping, clapping, clapping, but not doing.

This is me on the bike in my kit with the grease stain that doesn’t quite match because I got the tri shorts instead of the bike shorts. This is me not looking hot or cute or sweet. Definitely not.

This is me in motion.

At the crit on Thursday, I rode around in the practice laps with my team and I felt my legs getting ready. I can barely keep up with them when they are practicing, but I do it anyway. I take the risk because without the risk there is no reward. I am the kind of woman who expects a lot out of life and I’ve never been scared to try new things even if this means somewhat sucking at them. I’ll suck at it until I don’t. And, then when I don’t suck I’ll have a depth and a kindness to all those new riders who do suck because I’ll remember.

We are at the start and I see some of my cycling friends and I’m next to my cycling ally on my team and I look to my captain, the woman I had the conversation with on the phone two days before, “Is there any possible harm I can do to anyone if I decide to race on Thursday?”

“Absolutely not,” my captain says clear through the wire.

In my head, it clicks, I’m in. I’ll do the crit.

And my foot is clipped in and the man with the loudspeaker is yelling out, “Five, four, three,” and I can feel my heart beating. This is amateur racing but the feeling is just the same as if this were a race for money, for sponsors, for titles.

“Two,” I think about a song and it’s in my head. It’s Rilo Kiley’s “A Better Son or Daughter.”

“One” and we’re off and the song remains and we do the first turn and I hear it loud and clear, “Sometimes in the morning I am petrified and can’t move.”

I take the corner and I’m in the group and I’m in the middle and I know I really shouldn’t be there. I’ll be last. I know it, but maybe just for this moment I can dream. I can dream in this peleton of being better than my legs, of my lungs, of my head.   I can dream this illusion for another corner or two and I do. I dream it so loud and I’m next to my friend from Emblem and I hear her breathing and I know she’s a better racer than me and it’s so okay. It is so okay.

And then we go on the quiet part of the street and the song carries on in my head and I stay on for a lap and there are no fans when we come around the first corner and that’s when they take off, “Awake and cannot open my eyes and the weight is crushing down on my lungs I know can’t breathe and hope someone will save me this time . . .”

And, they take the corner so fast and that one woman who is really good just attacks super strongly and we all breathe like crazy and it’s on and I’ve lost them and a guy yells, “Catch ’em. You’re close”

And I take the next corner behind and there is one woman behind me and I want to thank the world for letting me feel what it’s like to be a little bit better than someone else at this moment even if she passes me later because it does feel nice but it’s a strange feeling because it’s just riding a bike. It’s not worth of character. But, I’m riding fast and I see I’m going twenty miles per hour and I am doing well and then I am alone from the pack and I come up to the line and I wonder how this is going to be, going by all my cycling friends, everyone who has come here to watch this race and I feel it in my heart when they yell my name and the song sings on “and sometimes when you’re on, you’re really fucking on and your friends they sing along and they love you.”

And, I realize, they are giving me this love as I am riding by. I am riding badly; I have fallen from the pack but they are just giving me all this love in their cheers and I just smile.

I just smile because it’s all so nice.

And thirty minutes later I finish, last and I love it and I am so happy.

And, a red headed five year old kid I adore comes up to me after and takes my hat off and asks me about my team and he is so smart and interested in bikes and this is all I need. I need this bike riding and I need this interaction with this kid.

The next day I get a text from the kid’s dad, a friend I really like, and he says, “We were giving him things to dream about last night and we said, ‘You are riding a bike’ and he says ‘okay’ and we say, ‘Who are you riding it with?’ and he says, ‘Alexis.'”

He says, “Alexis.” This little five-year-old kid picks me to ride bikes with in his dreams.

And that’s about all I need in this scary, sad, painful, wonderful, hard and oh so beautiful life.

 

A-okay.

Uncategorized

Image

I’m taking a writing challenge this week. It’s to write a list, so I thought I’d make a bike list.

List of reasons why I am good at this sport

  1. Even saying this feels wrong because I am not good at this sport.
  2. I am trying to be good at this sport.  That counts for something, yes? Yes.
  3. I went to two races.
  4. My coach one time said I had good bike skills.
  5. Man, I wish bike skills counted for more.
  6. I am good at this sport in my heart because I am passionate about it. I may not be so good in the legs, but I’m good in the heart.
  7. I can keep up really easily on the B sweaty Tuesday Night Rides. After I do those twenty miles, I feel like I could easily do ten more.
  8. People sometimes say, “You’re doing great.”
  9. I have drive.
  10. I am motivated.
  11. I’m not going to fucking quit.
  12. I smile when I ride.
  13. I have my bike clothes on right now for a ride that will happen at 4 and it’s only 2:18. I’m that excited to go today.
  14. I am good at working hard in my writing, at my job, why can I not work a little harder while on the bike? I never feel like I work hard enough.      
  15. I put so much pressure on myself sometimes I feel like I’m going to implode.
  16. Do not implode. I finished both races.
  17. I did cyclocross even though I really was terrible, terrible and I thought that was fun and hard.
  18. There are some things people do that they are good at and naturals at and some things people do that require a lot of work. My friend told me I’m really good at reading (Thanks BP).
  19. I have increased how fast I can go.
  20. I have increased how far I can go.
  21. I am good at this. I am just not really good at this. I am beginner good.
  22. I am athletic, maybe not an elite athlete, but I’m doing alright.
  23. An earlier self wouldn’t even try this because it’s intimidating. I am trying it.
  24. I am doing okay.
  25. I feel a lot better.
  26. Thank you list.

Image

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/list-lesson/

DFL

Uncategorized

10305325_10152294265752935_7373597013377240240_n

Dead fucking last never felt so nice.

I can feel bad that I was so far behind. I can feel bad that each time I went up the hill, I slowed to 10 mph. I can feel embarrassed. I can feel self-pity. I can feel like I’m not actually cut out for this. I’m not actually a bike racer, not an elite or endurance or super competitive athlete. I’m not an extreme cyclist. I’m not this. Not them. Not me. I can feel all those things, but I choose not to.

I choose something different.

I choose the perfume of the budding trees coming up the hill. I choose the little boy who yelled, “Hi” to me. I choose the man who came up to me after the race, a smile as wide as a four-lane highway and said, “You did it!” I choose those guys from The Bike Shop who let me hang on their wheel for a bit. I choose the smile I felt from biking in the Niagara wine trail. I choose sunlight. Freedom. Good, strong breath. Joy. This is what I choose.

Today I raced 30.75 miles at Freedom Run Winery. I pulled my car up to a bunch of men and a few women and the guys from The Buffalo Bicycle Club waved at me in some sort of gentle welcoming—a slight movement that said, “Yes. Come. You are welcome here.”

I got on my bike and it was so loud. It clicked and clicked and I took a lot of grief from my fellow cyclists, and the clicking kind of drove me insane, but in another way, it was kind of okay because it was sort of funny.

I went for a short warm up ride with my teammate. Two women. Two bikes. Nickel City Cycles kits. I said, “My goal is to stay on the pack as long as I can, and then once I’m dropped, just ride it out and keep up my cadence.” My teammate said her goal was to work on her mental game. Then we talked about our lives and whispered secrets that only women know and we laughed and we turned around and stood in the line of category five racers.

“Alright. You do one lap together and then you get to that cone and then you launch.”

I looked over at my other teammate, “Launch!”

“Launch!” She said back to me through a laugh and a friendly smile and a great attitude and I didn’t know it then and neither did she (except in some hidden room of her self perhaps), but she would actually win the race.

Then, we were off and I fell back and the practice lap was hard and I took a Campus guy’s wheel because Campus men are nice and cool and are pretty much always going to help you. He got us back to the pack and I was fine after that.

When we got to the cone, everyone did “launch” but I just kind of “kept going the same.” I got dropped at the hill and I was a bit disappointed I didn’t stay on longer, but I didn’t and then it was about finishing the race.

And, I did. I bloody well did. And now I choose to be quite proud of that fact.

20140511_105246

A Woman Riding Along

Uncategorized

Image

Image

Through the forest and by the lake, it smelled of pine. It was up and up and up and then down, so glorious, down. Thirty-three miles per hour of pure freedom, of flying down the hill, of this is why I do this, of I am in love with the world.

I was a bit nervous to go to the Cyclofemme ride in East Aurora. I didn’t know anyone who was going. I had chatted over messages to the coordinator, but I had yet to meet her. It was important to me to go though. I like that this is an international event. I like that it is for a purpose: to celebrate women’s cycling. However, I was still nervous as I have been having some trouble with my food intake and I didn’t know how I’d do on twenty-five miles of hills. Twenty-miles of flats the other day at Grand Island was terribly hard because I didn’t have enough food in me.

This day though it was all sunshine and smooth East Aurora roads and I was doing way better than I thought. I was keeping up in the front no problem. Then, we went up the first hill and my spirit broke: how am I going to do this? The hill wasn’t what I’m used to on Tuesday night rides in Buffalo or out in Lancaster for training. This was an actual hill. It was up and around a bend and up and around a bend and up and around a bend and keep going and my breathing is heavy and people are passing me and I’m thinking, “How are you doing this so easily?” Then the coordinator comes up to the side and she is sunshine in human form. She is light and bright and easy going and gives me some tips and I understand more about gearing and I say, “Are we last?” And she says, “No! There are people behind you. Everyone’s going their own pace. You’re doing great!” So, my heart is lifted and I respond well to positive feedback and I feel motivated and I kick my legs into working order and I get my breathing back and this is when I do the scenery trick.

The scenery trick is as follows. Instead of thinking I’m a pro cyclist who is in the Tour de France and there is this insurmountable pressure on me, I think of myself as my grandmother riding her bike in wartime England. My grandmother tells me about this quite often. She tells me how she used to ride in high heels and a dress from Birmingham to Stratford on Avon and back again. She actually met my grandfather riding a bike. I love this idea. In my head, I become the woman in high heels just riding along, enjoying the scenery. I am not competition or frustration or self-doubt; I am simply a woman riding along.

So, I play the scenery trick and I see the peeling paint barns and the grey barking dog and smell the wood fireplaces and I see the smooth roads winding and winding upward and I just think: what will I see next? There is so much to see out here in this beautiful place of the arts and craft movement. There is so much to see in this world when one is traveling by bike.

I get through each hill and sometimes it is still hard and one time I take a drink of some water and drop my water bottle and have to circle back and I become almost the last one, but then I catch up and I’m back in the ride and I’m chatting with the other women and it’s fun. My legs are warm and my heart is full from being outdoors in the sun and the breeze.

And, I am simply a woman riding along.

 

 

You Gotta Pick Your Line

Uncategorized

Image        

          I’m sitting on the sidewalk and a peleton of men are flying by me, and I notice them, I do. I admire them. I kind of like them, but I’m starring up at my teammate who is marshalling and I’m thinking, “I am so lucky that this woman is on my team.” She is the strongest member of my team, I think everyone would agree, and she could be in a higher category but she’s not, she’s sticking around in cat four so she can be on a team; she’s sticking around so she can be on our team.

            The men fly around the corner. It is the cat 1,2,3 race and to be quite honest, it is a good looking group of men. They are speed; they are balance; they are cool. Perfectly timed, fireworks literally explode in the background behind them. They are some kind of celebrities out there. They are wild and rugged and masculine. It’s appealing. I’m not going to say it’s not.

            However, I still find this conversation more interesting because my teammate is a kind of mentor. She’s older than me and I’m fascinated how she can be so balanced. I try to find women in my community who I can look up to. I love my mom more than the night loves its stars, but I need women who are not my mom to help guide me too. I look for mentors and I ask them a million questions. This is what I do.

            So, I’m sitting there, literally and figuratively looking up to her. I’m asking her “What do you think about when you’re on a ride? What do you eat when you’re not riding?” She tells me. She’s generous of spirit. She’s happy to share what she used to think as a beginning cyclist and now as a more experienced cyclist.

            In my own training, I am having a hard time figuring out why sometimes I do well and sometimes I don’t. I think it’s related to food. I think it’s related to intimidation, to how many days I’ve trained beforehand, whether or not I feel nervous or sick or scared. I’m working it out though.

            This past week I went to criterion practice and it was fantastic. It was hard and good and fun. I got dropped. My other teammate dropped back to lend me her wheel and another couple of cycling friends did the same. It feels good to be in this learning community. I learned how to turn. I learned to ride close to other riders, not just pacelining but actually going around a corner with them: close, side by side. I was scared but I was trying not to break. I was scared, but I was going with the flow. I was scared, but I was working, working, working around those corners.

            Something in my mind has changed. I’m happier than I have been: in my biking life and in my regular life. The pressure is off. I know that in some secret corner of my heart, this is all going to be okay. Everything. It’s going to be okay. When I was flying around the corner, the leader, my original biking mentor, told us we had to pick our line. I realized that’s all it is. It’s just picking a line going into the turn, over and over again for each turn. That’s what life is. You just gotta pick your line.

The Quiet Place

Uncategorized

Image

Tell me something positive about yourself. Really. Do it. I’ll wait. I’ll drink a sip of this tea, while I wait for you to speak your words to me.

Got it? Whisper it to me. Tell me across the miles and as you do, listen to what you say. Say it to me; say it to yourself.

This is what I did on Monday’s practice. I silently said to myself in the first few miles of the ride, “I am strong.” I breathed in. I breathed out, “I am strong.”

My legs churned. I didn’t hyperventilate. I was breathing out all the carbon dioxide and taking in all that sweet morning oxygen that was around me.  

“Try to get to get past the point where they dropped you last time,” both my coach and my cyclist brother-in-law said to me. I saw that point in the map of my mind: right after the railroad tracks. This was where I first got dropped. When we came to that place, I breathed in. I breathed out, “I am strong.” It helped we were going a bit slower this ride, but there was something else too. I knew I could do it. I wasn’t afraid. Even if I got dropped, I knew I’d be okay.

Then, the wind started to come up. I know wind. I’ve sailed all my life (although I’m no expert). I do, however, understand wind. Our wind had changed from a headwind into a crosswind. My teammate changed her bike position. I followed so I was at her side, instead of behind her, as in a pace line. She yelled out what to do, “We need to echelon! You need to find the quiet place!” I understood it immediately.  I needed to find the place where I could be protected from the wind by my teammate’s wind resistance so that I could find the most speed myself.  I, in turn, provided wind resistance for my teammate to the left of me, so she could find her speed.

I got into the echelon and we sailed on the road. I knew exactly what she meant about finding the quiet place and I was there on my bike in this beautiful flock-of-birds-echelon of four women and one man and I thought, I love the quiet place. I can exist in the quiet place for right now.

Not just in my biking life, but in my regular life I am in the quiet place. I am a little lost. After being in an seven and a half-year relationship, marriage eludes me. My job is fulfilling and fantastic, but I am not a full time professor. I am a writer with awards, but not actually published. Therefore, this spring I’ve decided to take a step back from all of it and just concentrate on finding a way to my ideals, finding a way to not perhaps a white fence lifestyle, but maybe a bamboo fence lifestyle: living in a city I love, finding healthy relationships of all kinds, eating good and nourishing foods, having children a bit later, publishing my young adult novels, obtaining a healthy stomach: overall healing my body, my mind, my heart. In this way, I am in the quiet place.

I am here in the echelon of my life as the crosswinds are coming across. I am here in this quiet place and I am riding faster and stronger than I ever have before.

Image

Empty but Full.

Uncategorized

ImageImage

And every day it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And every day it sucks. And every time I am the worst. And every day it’s too hot and I’m too thirsty and my legs are too tired and I want to turn around. And every Monday morning at training I want to quit. I want to throw up. I want to cry. I want to keel over. I want to leave this to cyclists who know what they are doing. I want to stop. Stop. Stop. Now.   I did this too early. I did this too soon. I only started cycling last year. And I am defeated in this training.

But, every time, with the sun and the grass and the wind and it’s so effing beautiful out there on a road on this exquisite bike and you are not intellect or a brain or thought, you are machine and you are moving and you are going faster than you thought you could and you are in a pace line and you are a cog and you are movement and you are moving, moving, moving.   You are. Going. Fast. Now.

This is being the least experienced, the least fit, the least knowledgeable, the least confident. This is being that red lantern that gets dropped five times on a ride. This is being in the middle of farm fields by yourself and telling your legs to keep going, telling yourself to keep going even though you want to stop because you are so embarrassed that you could be this terrible. This is your coach slowing down behind everyone else and letting you hop on his wheel and telling you strategy and telling you how it is and his words are pure and simple and they cool your nerves. This is you getting to the stop sign where your teammates are and them not making fun of you, but rather congratulating you. This is your teammate bringing you espresso goo because she is kind and good and smart. This is for the camaraderie that is only found on a team. This is for that admiration, adoration, acceleration that comes with being on Nickel City Cycles.

So, for all this rot I talk about myself you’d think I’d be this weak meak mite of a person, but you’re wrong. I’m strong. I’m so strong because of this weakness. I am so strong because I am doing something so hard for me. I find strength in learning to defeat my weakness. It’s the survivors that know the depths of their strength. It’s those who keep going and push themselves and their minds are empty of confusion. They are muscle and movement and moments colliding together to create now. Just now.

This is what it means to compete. I am in competition with the self that tells me I can’t. I am competing with the self that tells me I am weak. I am competing with the self that tells me to give this up. I am in this competition. And. I will win.

ImageImage

Buffalove

Uncategorized

photo

This is a call out to you.

This is a neatly written thank you note: letters swirl in 1950s’ cursive.

This is echolocation.

This is a kiss at the door and you taste like tea.

This is sinewy strings of connection from you to me and back again.

This is a note under the desk in lopsided letters.

This is a flashlight signal from my room to yours, “I’m here. You’re there.”

This is to whoever put that note on my bicycle.

This is a thank you.

Thank you for reminding me that I live in a city where a stranger would tie some yarn onto a note that says, “I kind of love your bike” and put it on my old red bike, so that walking out of the Lexington Co-op, I would discover it and exclaim out loud to myself, “Oh cool.”

I have been a stranger in a strange land of bikes.  Last summer at Campus’s Tuesday Night Rides, I could barely bike ten miles.  I could barely run two miles. I was twelve pounds heavier. I sat in an office all day. I knew no one in the group. My bike cost forty dollars and was made in roughly 1983. I rode with the C group and I got ice cream and I was scared on the curvy pedestrian bridge but I realized that something clicked. I liked going up a small hill. I liked the way the wind felt in my hair. I liked the energy of this group of people.

Now, last night I ran 4.75 miles. I biked twenty-nine miles on Friday. I am learning to race on a team. I am trying to ride fast. My bike is much better. I have a lot of cool gear. I have made some lovely friends who ride bikes in all sorts of ways.

But, your note took me back. Your note took me to the beginning of the journey. The journey that began with a red bike. They journey that continues with a red bike.

photo(1)