Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Redemption of Riding Solo

Top Flats of Shadow Run
I like to think they were Cicadas.  No dis against crickets, but the head-filling sound of Cicadas fit the zen feel of a solo ride better.  I had no wheel to chase, nor any spinning hubs behind me.  After the battery died on my Ipod an hour into my solo ride at Versailles State Park in Indiana, I was bummed at the loss of my mountain biking soundtrack.  Then I realized, the woods have a soundtrack all their own.  It was me, the wind, the kayaker down below on the creek that feeds the lake and the Cricket-adas.

Riding well below donkey wheezing pace, I had time to listen closer and tune-in the harmonies of the bugs.  I could afford to peer over the edge of the Cliffside trail and check out the dead fallen trees bridging the ravine.  I filled up my phone’s memory bank with photos.  I thought to stop and snap a photo of the trail in the “v” of two trees, but the flow was too good.  At the next intersection, I smiled wiping a cobweb from my face.  I was the first rider of the day on the Grandview loop.

Deadfall on Cliffside
I love riding with friends and teammates, but here comes the but.  I enjoy the solo ride too.  I like to ride my pace of the day, stop when I want to stop, hammer when I feel punchy.  If you need a natural break, you pull over at the next big tree and don’t have to dig deep to claw back on the train.  With a song in my head, “Save Me San Francisco” by Train, I whistled and rode the flow of the Shadow Run loop.

Interesting Tree at the Time
I planned on two hours, but got back to my car 20 minutes early.  I wasn't ready for civilization yet.  I laced up my running shoes, tucked the car key under the leg of my bike shorts and headed back out to round off the time with a trail run.  The ground felt soft and springy under my steps.  Now traveling even slower, with my breath being the only self generated noise, I could hear the kids playing in the pool, the occasional car on the road far below my ridgeline trail and still, the chorus of cicadas.  While the small climbs were tougher on foot, that “v” in between the trees was just as fun to run through.

Back at my truck, I ran into a friend headed out for a solo ride of his own.  As he made a last tweak on his bike, I raved about my ride and run to Bill.  It was Sunday.  I think we were both at church.  A solo ride is always refreshing and redeeming for the soul.  

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