When All Else Fails, Start Over

Riding on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, feeling like a kid again on my cheap cruising bike.
Riding on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, feeling like a kid again on my cheap cruising bike.

I’ve had an amazing experience this week. After feeling demoralized and discouraged about cycling, I’ve actually re-discovered that feeling of “whee!” on my bicycle.

It was a feeling I’d all but lost, as I approached cycling with a “go further, get faster” attitude this summer. Instead of liking it more, I faced the prospect of riding with dread. Basically, I lost the desire to ride my bike.

Thankfully, this didn’t extend to my commuter bike. I’m still enjoying the simplicity of hopping on the hybrid and riding the bike path to work. The hill at the end of the ride has gotten easier and easier to climb. I am pretty sure I’m getting there faster each week that goes by.

But this week I really started over. I’m on vacation in Nevada and Arizona, headed to Burning Man, and I bought a cheap cruiser bike. It’s got no gears and no handbrakes. There’s a cute little woven basket on the front.

It’s stylish and simple. And I love it. The other day I took it for a stunning ride along the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Renald and I slogged along on our $100 bicycles, up hills, down hills. We stopped at at least six different look-out points where we locked our bikes to the supplied racks so we could walk the paths to views so magnificent they seem unreal.  It was the perfect way to see the Canyon.

I had my bottle of water and a packed lunch stuffed into the little basket. And at the end of the day, when we were worn out from the sites and the climbs and the relentless sunshine, and feeling cautious of the approaching grey skies that might bring rain, we put our bikes on the front rack of a bus and it drove us back the 15 or so km to our parked vehicle.

What a brilliant day.

And that came one day after our bicycle adventure on the Las Vegas Strip, where we found a 24 hour restaurant serving an early-morning breakfast. After that the valets at Caesar’s Palace were so taken with our cruisers that they checked them for us and wheeled them into their storage room for safe keeping while we went inside to check out enormous aquarium behind the front desk.

What I’ve discovered is that I actually LOVE riding! It makes me feel free and fast and light and like I’m flying. If I can capture that feeling on a clunky cruiser, maybe I can find it when I’m riding my road bike.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that sometimes, doing less is more likely to get me where I need to go than trying to do more.

So for the rest of this vacation I’m going to enjoy my $100 cruiser. And when I get home, here’s hoping that I can sustain the joy when I get back on the road bike.

I’ve got another Olympic distance triathlon coming up on September 14 and I so desperately want to like the bike leg! But since I need to leave my cruiser in Nevada, the road bike will have to do.

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