I was out riding again. No particular route in mind. I would take stretches of bike paths and roads for a while, heading in one direction, only to change my mind, suddenly, as if the wind had whispered an exciting secret in my ear making me privy to some happening in another direction. And off I’d go in a new direction. Normally, on the weekend I have a riding buddy, but I was out there alone today. I have no preference as such about riding with friends or alone. Each way it’s a great experience. When I am with my riding buddies, I feel safer and also a little more adventurous, not to mention slightly competitive. When I ride alone, I come closest to a state of meditation, if meditation is about being in the moment. There is no way that I can describe what being in moment is like on the bike and do it full justice, but I can easily say that all sorts of things disappear from my normally turbulent stream of thought: time (past and future), worries, people, agendas, theories, “to do” lists, regrets, hopes…. What remains is a steadily flowing stream of smells, sights, and, above all, an alertness to everything that could endanger or impede the flow of these smells, sights, and yes, even the alertness itself.
I rode for some 25 miles this afternoon, with a brief stop for food and drink. I bracketed the ride with attempts to climb two hills that have scared me enough to turn that meditative state into, well, handlebar-gripping terror at descents and, of course, out-of-breath struggles on the ascents. One is Camino Alto, which connects Corte Madera with Mill Valley. The other is the Fairfax-Bolinas Road. I managed to climb a little higher on these hills today. Not very far from the start, mind you, but still, I was on my way. And I also managed to ride down a little faster, with my hands finally joining the hands of the inner child whose delight in biking, skiing, and skating like a fiend knew no bounds when I was still her age.