Tuesday, March 28, 2006


It is currently 39 degrees outside. Fahrenheit. The sun peeks through the shadowed clouds at even intervals. Once, maybe twice per hour. It shines its rays on us for a minute, then is gone again.

I cannot take my winter prison any longer. Underarmour, designed to keep thermal on my skin, wicking away sweat, keeping me dry and warm, wraps my skin, under my biking jersey and pants. A stocking cap makes me look more like Rocky then Lance, but it keeps my ears warm, and my headphones securely on them.

My new cleated shoes clomp down my steps, which are easily five degrees colder than the rest of the apartment. Is this a bad idea? Is it still too cold outside? I stop being a wuss and take the plunge. Outside it is brisk, not cold, and I am standing it a rare flare of sunlight. This is a good idea. My legs are already spinning in anticipation.

The first few miles are through town. Up past the business district, the lake to my left. It is still frozen, but the Mississippi shows through where the bridge crosses over. No one is on the path but me. I turn the corner and lose town easily. The new bike is starting to feel right underneath me, and I am regretting paying so much less and less. The carbon beams flexes out most of the road bumps, and the carbon fork takes away the vibration. Cars slow to look at its weird design, and I feel like a real cyclist. My spin is becoming more natural, and the ride is smooth and real.

As more and more of town melts away I feel more at ease. The bike accelerates better than I expected. With a few adjustments, it will fit perfectly. Downhills are easily 35 miles per hour, no pedaling. Trees whizz by like pavement beneath me. There is both nature and no nature. Where are the deer? Squirrel? But the trees. Ahh, the trees. Not just the Pine, safe through the winter, keeping the color neither beautiful nor ugly. But the Maple, leafless, somehow more alive in anticipation of spring. And the Oak. What more can be said for it? It lives every poem written for it.

And I am a part of it. For the first time in six months I am back in my milieu. I am the lack of wildlife, I am the nature. I am nature. I feel pounds lifting off me. Not just my waistline, my shoulders. My face, losing lines to the roadside, sweat peeling off care. Sweet breeze, I smell your touch on my cheek.

The last few miles bring me back into town. I come in with the lake on my right, completing the circle and bringing me home. Three other cyclists are starting, reverse course, and wave at me. One of them stares. Maybe at my jersey, more likely the bike. We recognize our own. They, too, wear stocking caps and smiles. This is their first ride of spring. We know each other.

I complete my trip and ascend the stairs again. It has been one hour, twenty minutes, and fifty four seconds. I have gone twenty four and one half miles. But it has been six months, and I have gone nowhere. Now, I have been out, now I am living, my clock is moving again. It is 45 degrees. The sun is shining through, the clouds are moving on. I am alive.

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