While I was searching for other RAIN riders' reports, I came across a passage that resonated strongly with me. In my ride report for ALC9, I noted that one of the most pleasant surprises this year was that I was actually able to find solitude on the ride. That seems like a strange thing to seek amid 1,900 other cyclists, and I wondered: Am I really that odd for enjoying riding by myself?
A Buddhist and lifelong Hoosier who only identifies himself in his blog as "Wade" was in this year's RAIN ride, and he made this observation, which I really can't say any better myself, so I'll just let him take the floor:
I've realized that long distance cycling is a very powerful form of meditation. Long hours alone, with only the sounds of my wheels turning, the wind blowing, and occasional birds chirping provides a perfect setting for prolonged meditation. Before becoming more determined with my meditation I used my time on the bicycle to solve problems, contemplate the future, and reminisce about the past. Yesterday, I rode 160 miles in eleven and one half hours. During that time, I mostly focused on my breath, the feelings in my constantly pedaling legs and the 'sickish' feeling in my stomach. (The heat and one-too-many protein shakes took their toll on my innards.) A few times during the day I found myself thinking about work or family or other issues. With those precious few exceptions, the entire day was spent focusing on the present--breathing in, breathing out, noticing the trees, pedaling, shifting gears. I found a remarkable peace that seemed to be consistent whether I was climbing a hill, sweating profusely in the afternoon sun, or stopping to have my water refilled.
I think this defines "why I ride" quite well.
Photo: Approaching the Lake Mead National Recreation Area on a ride last Wednesday.