I don’t always get what I need from the bike. I know that’s probably a little sacrilegious to say, but I’m not much for religion. The truth is that a lot of my riding is anodyne. Some of it is even unpleasant. I’m thinking of those winter night rides home through heavy darkness, the wind blowing daggers in my face, the going so slow I can feel the numbness creeping up through my toes toward my ankles.
Of course, the reason I ride on those nights is that on some of them, I can have something approaching a transcendent experience.
Last night I went out with a friend to do a route we’ve done a thousand times. It was just the two of us, so less wacky hi-jinks than with the usual crew. We stopped less, rolled more. The woods were filled with a fine fog, and a recent rain had packed down the ground cover. Everything felt good and right.
This is how it happens, right? You don’t know you’re going to have a great ride until you’re having a great ride.
Darkness in the woods is pretty compelling though. On the bike, you’re depending on that cone of light streaming from your handlebar. All your focus goes there. The flow states Padraig is always writing about are easy to achieve in these conditions, operating just at the edge of your ability, all distractions blotted out.
For the first time in a long time, I arrived home legless.
This week’s Group Ride asks, when was your last transcendent ride? Where was it? What made it so good? Were you alone or with friends? Is it/was it repeatable, or do you think there’s some alchemy at work with rides like this?